PENDLETON — Bryce Higginbottom played nine holes at Fall Creek Golf Club last Thursday morning.
But he wasn’t outside — even though it was prior to the recent snowfall and cold snap, and the weather was almost nice enough to be on the course.
Higginbottom was playing inside with friend and pro shop employee Jim Clegg, using the club’s latest offering — a new golf simulator set up in the clubhouse.
“I love it — it keeps me going,” Higginbottom said. “At 71 years old, you don’t want to stiffen up over the winter.”
The simulator is located in a newly partitioned back room in the clubhouse. The play area is set up on a base that’s 12 feet wide and 22 feet deep, and covered with artificial turf carpeting. At one end is a screen that’s 10 feet wide and 11½ feet tall. Golfers hit balls into the screen, where graphics are projected.

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The simulator has been open for about a month. It allows the club, which is owned by the Town of Pendleton, to offer golfers a place to play and practice not only in the winter, but year ’round when being outside isn’t an option or desire.
“It turned out much better than we had ever hoped,” Parks Director Aaron Burris told the town council at a recent meeting. “We went in there and we’re like, ‘Let’s put a wall here, let’s put a wall here,’ and it all came together really nicely.”
Several computer devices and software programs — including components by FlightScope and GSPro — run the show based on player selections.
People can choose from among hundreds of golf courses, about 90% of which are recreations of real-life courses, such as Bethpage Black, Bandon Dunes and Firestone, Burris said. People can choose the number of players and formats.
The simulator gathers shot data, which are used to generate the graphics, and keeps track of things such as scores and whose turn it is.
The simulator — which cost about $8,000 total to set up — was paid for by a donation from an anonymous longtime member, Burris said. Much of the work was done by park employees and local contractors who donated their labor.
The space is heated, and there’s a table with seating to one side of the playing area, and room on the other side to stand or sit on a stool.
The club did have a “primitive” simulator previously, but the new one “is a big upgrade from what we had,” Burris said.
The new one costs $35 an hour to rent. People can book play times from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with the clubhouse closing at 9 p.m.
Fall Creek Golf Club, which includes an 18-hole traditional course located at 250 W. Reformatory Road, is open to the public and sells annual memberships.
The club plans to open its outdoor course for the season on March 1, weather permitting, Burris said.
In the meantime, those itching to play before then can book a virtual outing.
They can even choose to play the Fall Creek course on the simulator. A developer based in England built a virtual version of the course at a cost of $800, said Ted Shetterley, a club member who stopped by on Feb. 15 to upload a revised fourth version of the course.
“This is really good,” he said, pointing out some of the local features and landmarks — including the club’s entrance sign and Sahm’s Smokehouse — that are incorporated into the visuals.
Burris said the club and W Athletics, located at Pendleton Sports Complex, shared the cost of making the local course simulation.
Another cost the club will pay is a $250 annual fee to GSPro.
Higginbottom is one of about 40 people who had used the simulator as of a week ago, pro shop employee Dick Patterson said.
“I’ve been here every day using the driving range,” Higginbottom said. “And I play 18 if there’s someone around that wants to play.
“And I’m not getting any better,” he added with a laugh.