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Updated: October 30, 2023

Sim City Golf to add locations in Bangor and Old Orchard Beach

graphic of golf course Courtesy / Sim City Golf A high-definition projector projects a golf course onto a screen. Users choose from scores of simulated courses.

As a long-time golf professional in Maine, Brian Bickford has always been intrigued by golf simulators.

About a decade ago, Bickford was the head golf professional at Val Halla Golf Club in Cumberland. There, he installed three simulators as a business within the club.

“The business took off,” he said. “Our occupancy was nearly 100%.”

Five years ago, with a couple of partners, Bickford moved the business, called Sim City Golf, to 100 Larrabee Road in Westbrook, where he operates eight simulators.

Now he’s expanding the business.

Bickford recently signed a lease at 930 Stillwater Ave. in Bangor to open Sim City Bangor.

Robert Baldacci of F.O. Bailey brokered the lease.

building exterior and vehicles
Courtesy / Sim City Golf
Sim City Bangor will open at 930 Stillwater Ave. in Bangor as Sim City Golf’s second location.

The space, in a shopping center called Crossroads Plaza, previously housed Wight’s Sporting Goods store, said Baldacci.

The Bangor location will have four golf simulators.

“The beauty is that there are a lot of golfers in Greater Bangor,” said Bickford. “We felt like there was capacity to expand.”

Bickford uses simulators made by the Danish firm Trackman, which has a U.S. sales office in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The setup consists of a room equipped with a high-definition projector that projects a golf course onto a screen. Users can choose from among scores of simulated courses.

interior of commercial space
Courtesy / Sim City Golf
The Westbrook location has eight simulators.

“For example, you’d be on the first tee at Pebble Beach,” he said. “The wind is left to right, the green speed is very fast and, when you hit the golf ball, the computer is quick enough to project it onto the screen just like a real golf shot.”

The software analyzes factors such as the club head speed, spin on the ball and angle of attack to determine the distance of the shot on the screen.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You can play alone, you can play with partners, you can play a whole host of games.”

person in striped polo shirt smiling
Courtesy / Sim City Golf
Brian Bickford.

Bickford is head coach of the University of Southern Maine golf program and former coach at Greely High School, Yarmouth High School and Cape Elizabeth High School. In 2020 he helped lead the Greely golf team to a Class A State Championship and also coached five individual state champions in girl's golf during his career.

He is the executive director of the Maine Golf Association, serves as executive director of the Maine Golf Hall of Fame and has received numerous accolades for his work including six Player Development Awards from the Maine Chapter of the New England Professional Golfers' Association of America. He was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in 2016. At Val Halla, he received the Golf Professional of the Year Award from the Maine Chapter of the NEPGA of America twice. 

Bickford said the technology is useful for player practice.

“The technology is amazing,” he added.

Like other multi-player internet games, users can play together no matter where they are in the world, as long as they have similar set-ups.

The Sim City business model is to lease space for five-year terms, buy the equipment and retrofit the space. Additional amenities include a bar and food service. 

“But we’re not a bar first,” he said. “We are golf first.”

Finding the Bangor location took two or three weeks after Bickford connected with Baldacci. Space requirements included a ceiling height of 10 to 12 feet. For four simulators, from 3,500 to 5,000 square feet of space was needed.

room under construction with boards
Courtesy / Sim City Golf
Space requirements included a ceiling height of 10 to 12 feet and at least 3,500 square feet of space.

With building permits and licensing in hand, the retrofit is taking about 20 days.

“The city of Bangor has been great to work with,” said Bickford. 

He continued, “For us, the Bangor location is perfect because we don’t have any rip-out. It’s just fit-up. We’ll have an engineer install the four sims.”

bar counter stools TV
Courtesy / Sim City Golf
As seen here in the Westbrook location, the business model includes food service and a bar, although golf is the primary mission.

Initial investment in the fit-up is about $350,000, with a portion financed through Norway Savings Bank. 

Further opportunities for the Bangor location, he said, include summertime driving range opportunities for people working on their games, along with golf lessons and junior golf programs. 

“We have a lot of opportunities that we think will be great year-round,” he said.

Bickford is also subleasing space at Birdies Grill & Tavern at 168 Saco Ave. in Old Orchard Beach, to open a third Sim City.

The goal is to open the Bangor and Old Orchard Beach locations by Nov. 1.

Bickford said that, between his business and others, there are 56 golf simulators across nearly two dozen locations in Maine.

“What I’m doing now, in my role as executive director of Maine Golf, is working with all the businesses in Maine to create a central website,” he said. “So if you live in Hancock County and you’re looking for the nearest simulator, you can find it on our Maine Golf website.” The goal is to launch the website in the coming month.

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