GOLFERS are getting into the swing of things at Inverclyde’s first indoor training and practice centre.

A new £184,000 state-of-the-art development studio has opened at Gourock Golf Club to encourage people, particularly juniors, across the district and beyond to take up the sport.

The purpose-built facility features a high-tech simulator, which allows golfers to play a round at world-famous courses, including Carnoustie, which will host next year’s Open, Troon, Royal Birkdale and places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi — all in real-time or custom weather conditions. It is the first centre of its kind in central Scotland.

Gourock professional Derek Watters said: “Everybody gets quite a shock when they come in because they don’t expect it to be as big as it is inside — it’s like a Tardis.

“It’s also a teaching studio for me and has an area for fitting golf clubs.

“The reaction from members has been excellent and we’re now opening it up to the public.”

The studio is available to members, non-members and juniors, who can access the facility for free to try and entice a younger generation of golfers.

Inside there are two bays, which can be used as a virtual driving range or for playing a full 18 holes, comfy leather seats, flat-screen TVs, a kitchen, hot drinks machine and an equipment area.

The studio has been funded by grants of £80,000 from the European Union ‘Leader’ fund, £10,000 from the National Lottery’s Awards for All Scotland scheme with the rest contributed by generous benefactors and sponsors.

Alan Warwick, golf club general manager, said: “It’s exceeded our expectations.

“This effectively didn’t cost the club any money and for that we have to give recognition to the Leader fund, Big Lottery and a combination of benefactors and sponsors. We’re incredibly lucky.

“We hope people will use it and show more of an interest in golf — and that it will help revitalise junior golf in the area.”

Budding golfers from Moorfoot Primary enjoyed a practice session and gave the studio the thumbs-up.

P7 pupil Jack McKillop, 11, said: “It’s is going to encourage a lot of people to practice here and out on the course.”

Emily Nelson, 10, believes it will become a vital resource.

She said: “Sometimes when you want to play golf it’s raining outside and really cold, but this is here so you can come inside and play whatever the weather, plus it’s really high-tech and cool.”

Keen golfer Scott Newman, 11, also gave it his seal of approval.

He said: “I hope it will encourage a lot more juniors to play the sport and to practise over the winter months instead of putting their clubs away.”

Fellow pupil Beth Freel, 11, added: “It’s great because it’s indoors, very interactive and it’s free for juniors.”

Ross Stewart, from Inverclyde Active Schools, says the simulator is a huge asset to the area.

He said: “It’s a great facility to promote the sport and will help drive it, particularly over the winter months when it’s difficult to get people in so this will allow them to keep practising.”

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