Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ralph Spevere. You may recognize his name from the aG Tour leader boards and his recent hole in one on Whistling Straits:
It’s a thing of beauty.
During our chat, Ralph discussed the biggest office perk he’s ever experienced and how the aboutGOLF simulator improved his game.
aG: Your office has aboutGOLF simulators. How did that happen?
Ralph: Our corporate headquarters moved locations about a year and a half ago. The new location has a lot more space than we need. A few of us went to the company CEO and VPs and said, ‘Hey, we think we need to some fun some stuff at the office. Maybe a pool table or a ping pong table.’ And I suggested we get a golf simulator.
Some might say that Ralph's desk shows signs he's hooked on golf...
I offered to take on the golf simulator project, and they agreed. I started looking at different simulators. I wanted to know what Michael Breed was using because I watch his show and videos all the time, and he is someone the entire golfing community trusts. Ultimately, I went to Maumee to visit the aboutGOLF center. I got hooked up with Ed Kanine and Jeff Cooper and tested the simulators out. We also discussed software, technology, and the roadmap for aboutGOLF products.
Being a competitive golfer, I generally know my distances with my clubs within a few yards. When I was testing the aboutGOLF simulator, I thought this is unbelievable. That's exactly how it flies in real life. The simulator is legit. I knew right then and there that I wanted my company to partner with aboutGOLF.
aG: Do you use the simulators often?
Ralph: We have two simulators side by side, and then we added a putting green area with five cups. We printed a 10-foot high by a 20-foot long image of the iconic 7th hole at Pebble Beach. We put our logos on it and people love it. We have even installed indoor turf going right up to the screen. People ask if they can get a picture in front of it because it’s like they’re there. We are always improving the area and had an engineer at one of our local facilities create some custom product inspired tables.
The Hendrickson HQ sports 2 aboutGOLF simulators, custom made tables, and a very photogenic putting green.
From an employee perspective, the golf simulators are a great retention tool. It's something fun to do. And then from a sales perspective, it's a great addition to our showroom experience. We build suspensions for the heavy-duty truck and trailer markets. We have a lot of suspensions on display here because it's our global headquarters. We haven't had the opportunity to show off the simulators to customers yet with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we know it will be a hit. We plan to host customers and have events with golf competitions. Our entire sales staff came to the headquarters, and that was the inaugural kickoff of the simulators.
We're not an indoor center; we just happened to be very lucky employees to have such awesome golf simulators. And there's about a dozen of us that are on the golf simulators all the time.
aG: What’s the most you’ve ever played in a day?
Ralph: I played 14 rounds of golf in one day on the simulator. I came in this past weekend thinking it was a Saturday because I was going to try and squeeze two days of golf in over the holiday. My family knows that on Sunday mornings, I get up early and go to “work” on the simulators. By the time I get home, it's lunchtime. When I played 14 rounds of golf on Sunday, the aboutGOLF marketing group wanted to know how I was able to manage playing so many rounds of golf in a morning. I jokingly told them by trying to swing as few times as possible. The point is to keep my score down. We all laughed after my response.
aG: What’s your favorite thing to do on the simulators?
Ralph: Well, when we first got them, it was all about knowledge. It was an opportunity to really understand and change some things about our game, like ball speed, trajectories, and spin. Just really getting some good insights. As a golfer, I knew my ball flight. I knew approximately how high it flew and all that good stuff, but I never really got into the analytics of it. The simulator has kind of turned me into an analytics geek. I want to understand everything now and how to make subtle changes to tweak something here or there to achieve my desired outcome.
Ralph Spevere in Hendrickson's HQ golf haven.
Now I know how minor adjustments affect ball flight and spin to aid me in making the critical in-round adjustments. We all have good days and bad days, that’s reality. Having the knowledge and instant feedback from aboutGOLF simulators reduces my practice time and reinforces positive changes to ultimately get my scores lower. I know what I need to do to cut a little bit of that spin off or play a baby-fade into a tough pin placement. These simulators have been amazing training aids.
At the very beginning, we played almost exclusively on Michael Breed’s 360 Range. We almost taught ourselves how to golf again with real and instant data. Now it's about playing a round of golf with friends. We can't wait to get on the sim at lunch. My coworker and I will play 18 holes, and sometimes we'll squeak in a few more. We have a friendly competition every day. It's really fun and keeps the competitive juices flowing.
aG: Has practicing with the simulator improved your handicap?
Ralph: In early 2019 I was right around scratch and I'm now +2.0. So, I took about two strokes off my game in about two years. It took a lot of work but has certainly paid off.
aG: What do you think of aboutGOLF?
Ralph: I’ve been able to play on a few different kinds of simulators. I used one of the popular brands for club fitting, and the numbers weren’t quite right. I compared it to what the aboutGOLF readings were, and I trust aboutGOLF more.
Depending on the system's technology, other manufacturers have to extrapolate the data, but that's not the same as measuring it. I don't know how any professional would use anything other than aboutGOLF. I honestly don't.
If you want to be an elite player, you must be serious about how you're training and getting your data. And if that data is flawed even by a few percentage points, you'll go out on the course and find out that data is flawed. That kind of doubt is a game killer.
A lot of golf simulator companies do pretty well. But if you can't measure with a hundred percent accuracy, then you can't be a hundred percent confident about how far the ball is going to go.