FAIRVIEW – Eastern Montana has a new main attraction.
In Fairview, Dan Cayko cleared out space in his personal shop to open a virtual golf simulator open to the public. Par Tee Golf, as Cayko named it, has to simulators that can accommodate up to eight golfers each.
Par Tee Golf features more than 90 different courses, ranging from 2019 U.S. Open venue Pebble Beach in California to famed Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., where the PGA Tour hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Cayko has patrons participating in scramble tournaments built around the PGA Tour schedule where they can play the same course as current PGA professionals.
“I’ve been doing little three-man scramble tournaments following the PGA Tour,” Cayko said. “We did Innisbrook (Golf Resort) three, four weeks ago. A couple of weeks ago we did Bay Hill. We had a little league this winter and had a lot more interest in next year. A lot of guys are starting to come in, bring their buddies and say, ‘Man, where’s this been all winter?’ So I told them, ‘I’ll just keep doing these tourneys until the golf course in Sidney opens up.'”
During the winter months, Cayko saw the stream of traffic into his shop steadily increase. With the winter melt still in progress, the spring months have picked up at Par Tee Golf.
“I think people are getting itchy to get out on the course, to get in and get some full swings in, play with your buddies, guys that you’re normally playing with this time of year, too. It’s a fun way to get together with your golfing buddies. I’ve had a lot of people from Sidney, and Fairview here has been really supportive of it,” Cayko said.
High school golf teams around the Fairview area have capitalized on the opportunity to work on their game as well, even when the weather won’t allow them to be outside.
While they may be hitting practice shots into nets in the gym and putting on the floors, the simulators afford the coaches the teaching tools necessary to improve their athletes’ game during the fickle spring months.
“Fairview and Savage, their golf teams come in for a couple hours or once a week just because they can’t get outside,” Cayko said. “(The simulators) have good teaching things on them. It’ll show you the lay of your club — if you’re open or closed — the club speed, ball speed, the launch angle of the ball — whether you’re too far back or too far forward — that stuff. So the guys that teach golf, it helps them tremendously. They can really critique their swings.”
“The putting and chipping on these is a little tougher than on the course, but just to be able to swing and see where the ball is going (is beneficial),” he added.
Par Tee Golf has seen growth in Year 1 even though Cayko has relied primarily on word of mouth to attract customers. During the holidays, people from Mils City, Sidney, and even Williston, N.D., travelled to Fairview to hit the links.
“I’ve hit a couple of the local newspapers with advertising once or twice, but (daughter) Lexi got me on a little Facebook page that’s been spreading,” the elder Cayko said. “(It’s) got around 400 people that liked the page. It’s kind of catching on a little bit more every time someone new comes in.”
With Par Tee Golf, there’s now no offseason in eastern Montana.