His smile and demeanor are, as always, polite and gracious. His manners are impeccable. The thoughtfulness and sincerity of his words have not changed since he entered the golf world. But there's something different about three-time major champion Larry Nelson nowadays. And it's a difference that could affect your golf as well.
As strange as it may seem, Larry Nelson is excited about being excited. That is, excited about golf. Confused? Keep reading.
The 2011 PGA Distinguished Service Award winner, the highest annual honor presented by The PGA of America, is on a new mission - growing the game. And he thinks he may have found a way to do it.
"Last year, I played seven rounds of (casual) golf," Nelson said over lunch near his Marietta, GA home, "and I live a few hundred yards from the first tee at Atlanta Country Club."
Nelson, who has designed, owned and operated golf courses, fully understands the challenges that today's golf industry faces and has come across one alternative that he believes will be a key driver in teaching the game, bringing in new players and enhancing the enjoyment of a player's time on the course. That alternative? Today's top of the line golf simulator.
"It's really incredible," says Nelson with unabashed enthusiasm. "I can drive a few minutes from my house and play Pebble Beach or St. Andrews or any of 70 other great courses from around the world. And I've played most of these courses, the level of detail is absolutely stunning. Just amazing. I don't worry about the weather, slow play, or having to meet my wife for dinner."
Nelson believes that there is one item that is missing from many amateur foursomes around the country - one that his time spent in a golf simulator has reintroduced into his game.
"Golf is supposed to be fun!" Nelson says emphatically. "When did we forget that?"
Nelson, more than most, understands the joy of overcoming the inherent challenge of the game, the grinding and the satisfaction of a well played hole, but still offers that players are forgetting that it is above all, a game to be enjoyed.
"You tee off, you go your separate ways, find your shots, meet up at the green, hopefully watch each other putt and then march to the next tee. There is a very important social element that we don't stress enough. That's why people golf. It's an escape, it's a time away to go out with family, or your buddies or whoever and laugh, share stories, applaud great shots, those things.
"But in a simulator, the focus of everyone is on one player at all times. You take turns, just like real golf, but everyone is right there and the fun of golf right there as well."
But is it really like golf?
This is where Larry Nelson, the World Golf Hall of Fame member, major championship winner and current Champions Tour member, speaks with 'expert player' authority.
"This is where the quality of the simulators make a difference. The enjoyment level, the social aspect, will be there no matter what. The graphics are outstanding across many simulators. But I can't sacrifice accuracy of my game for time in the simulator."
Nelson scoured all the resources he could find and visited several different simulators. He was so impressed with TruTrac Tracking System, he not only bought one but opened a business just north of Atlanta where others can come enjoy the simulator, learn in a controlled and comfortable environment and experience golf at some of the most iconic courses in the world.
Dynamix Golf is his newest venture, an entertainment/golf complex that Nelson feels is a way to not only share his love of golf with others, but help others embrace and learn golf in a comfortable and non-intimidating setting.
"This is not designed to replace the on course experience," states Nelson, "nor should it be. I don't think you can do that. But you can replicate many of the great aspects of golf, alleviate some of the pain points and introduce golf to a whole new audience without some of the barriers that keep people away. I love watching my grandkids there hitting golf balls, having fun and learning to love golf. I love coming here and working on my game, seeing the stats and the trajectories and the visuals that are offered. Golf in a simulator will only augment golf, not harm it. I can't wait to get out and play and see how golf in the simulator has improved my play. I already know it's improved my enjoyment."
So if the winter conditions mean your local course is closed, or you just have a want to try the famous 7th hole at Pebble Beach or 18th at Pinehurst, you can do just that within a few minutes of your home. Take it from a champion golfer who now famously champions golf - you'll learn, you'll enjoy and you'll return for more after you've tried the simulator once.