As winter-induced restlessness reaches its peak, you may be finding yourself looking for indoor exercises and distractions, or any sort of reminder that summer is on its way. Rather than waste time dreaming of the day you’ll be hitting the links or starting up your summer softball league, why not invest a little time and money on a few gadgets or a DIY project that can transform your basement, backyard or garage into a sports refuge during the winter months?
If you’ve got high ceilings and a love for the links, check out one of the many high-tech golf simulators available. The Full Swing Golf Simulator ($14,000 and up) is a fully immersive, high-def indoor golfing experience. Using a system of infrared sensors to track ball speed and velocity, the simulator boasts a top-notch physics engine, giving you the most realistic golf experience you can get without having to step outside.
For a cheaper option, go for the Golf Launchpad ($199), which features a tuft of artificial turf with a tethered ball that links to your PC, Mac or PS3. The device gives you a whole new way to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008, and even alalyzes your swing. While the device is a lot cheaper than other golf simulators on the market, it is also less accurate, but if you are just looking to whack a few balls in the off-season, it should be more than good enough.
If you’d rather not be swinging your clubs near your expensive flatscreen television, then practice your drive with a simple multi-sport net, which runs around $90 and can also be used for punting or batting practice.
For racing fans, you can’t beat the realism of the VisionRacer VR3 ($1,159) a high-end set of driving controls for Gran Turismo 5. The cockpit features an adjustable seat, as well as fully adjustable pedals and a steering wheel mounted on a sturdy metal chassis. The only way to get a more realistic experience is to drop $200,000 on an actual Ferrari.
Living in a cold climate has its drawbacks, but being able to build your own backyard hockey rink is a definite plus. A backyard rink kit (around $300) includes a PVC lining with red and blue lines painted on to give your rink an authentic feel. However, be forewarned, even with a kit, building a rink requires a bit of work as it involves laying down thin coats of ice over the span of a week or so in freezing temperatures. So if you’re going to build one, buy a case of beer and invite your buddies over to help out.
Mixed Martial Arts
If all these ideas seem too tame and too cheap to you, for a mere $11,000 you can be the proud owner of a MMA Competition Octagon. Sure, it’s steep, but can you really put a price on quality time spent knocking your friends around?