Every curling club has grappled with the decision to stay open or close for portions of the pandemic. Many decided to pack it up and wait for the next fall. And that meant a long winter (and two summers) of thinking about curling, watching old games, virtual socializing, or playing some type of facsimile iceless shuffleboard game. All good options. But one Massachusetts curler may have designed the ideal choice: a curling simulator. Like a golf simulator, but better.
The story began about three years ago when Curl Berkshires shared this video:
At that time they were still a “paper club” (so, no curling ice) and Chris Begley, who had curled for a few years but still wanted some practice, put together this device that would let him practice his slide.
The pandemic forced their arena club off the ice as well, prompting him to build a second version, featuring a longer slide path and numerous software enhancements. He’s an engineer by trade, and shared this video with the Internet a couple of months ago:
This alone brought prompts of curlers demanding to know where they can buy one, how to build one, can they come over and use it, do you need a roommate, honestly, I don’t take up much space, you won’t even notice I’m here.
The first video was cool enough. Then, in a second video, Begley demonstrated the software:
So if you’re not into how-to videos, the 50-cent summary is that he basically created a curling video game. The “rock” is the controller. It’s Pop-A-Shot curling. It’s Golden Tee-Line. This contraption can then be scaled to accommodate a tabletop version. And if you’re not crafty, you can simply play the software by pointing and clicking.
He has now released the software on GitHub for anyone to try it themselves, though he warns, “the install process may not be for the faint of heart.” He also indicated it was design for MacOS but should work on other operating systems. So far he has not heard of anybody making their own version, but the year is young.
In talking to him, this was definitely a project of passion, just to see if he could complete it. But a cleaned-up version could have many practical applications. This could belong in sports bars and iceless warm weather countries. Or if we had a global pandemic and couldn’t go to the curling club and just wanted to practice. Imagine that.
So with 2.0 barely out of the cage, I asked him what he could see happening in a version 3.0. He has thought about exploring compatibility with an Oculus virtual reality set.
Virtual reality curling. Man, one day we might no longer need ice or granite.