Deep in the back of the labyrinth at the Featherbone Communiversity building on Chestnut Street in Gainesville, Jan Lucas Kuiper is busy working on his retirement venture that should be of particular interest to golfing enthusiasts.
In the midst of construction from other projects and thriving businesses in the warehouse space near Interstate 985, Kuiper and his two partners are putting the finishing touches on the way golf is played from tee to green, all while indoors.
A native of the Netherlands, who has lived in Gainesville since 1994, the retired business executive has a space that encapsulates everything needed for the full 18-hole golf experience.
“This is something that could put Gainesville on the map,” said Kuiper, who has patented the FlexGreen putting system.
Kuiper and his business partners, Albert Claessen and Gene Cobb, have all combined their efforts in designing the patented ViReGo (short for Virtual Reality Golf) system that allows players to use a meticulously-calculated, computer-driven putting green to compliment an indoor driving simulator that, in totality, requires all the same strategy as golf does.
With its limited space needs, it’s conducive to indoor facilities, retirement homes, cruise ships and is handicapped accessible.
In addition, it can be installed on existing driving ranges.
Now 74, Kuiper is working out the final kinks to perfect this putting system that could revolutionize the way golf is envisioned. Much of the time was invested by Claessen, who developed the unique software that makes integration possible with most golf simulators.
They’re already entertaining offers from investors who could potentially purchase the business. Plus, along with his wife, Kuiper is ready to enjoy the free time and perks of dual citizenship and owning a home in the Netherlands.
“What we want to do is sell the company and have someone else take it off the ground,” said Kuiper, who is CEO of Innovative Golf Opportunities.
However, Kuiper is still going to have some fun with it, while he still has the keys to the building and his golf clubs on hand.
He still works on all parts of his game ‘2 or 3’ times each week.
Everything, Kuiper said, has to be working smoothly before he’ll be satisfied with the finished product.
“I have a low budget but big concepts,” Kuiper said.
Over the past couple of years, Kuiper has molded his ViReGo vision from scratch.
Since taking up golf in retirement, and befriending members of its robust local population, the business-savvy former executive identified a hole in the sport’s market.
Traditional golf simulators provide golfers with the driving and chipping experience, but leaves a void when it comes to work with the putter.
That’s where Kuiper’s design comes in.
The ViReGo product gives everything: from tee to green, all in one convenient location.
After teeing off and fairway shots, using a simulator, golfers are able to move to a putting surface that is linked up with a computer to adjust automatically for the proper distance to the cup. The FlexGreen system also gives real-life undulation and players have to read the breaks, just like traditional golf strategy.
Once at the FlexGreen, the ball is linked up with a computer system and the synthetic surface moves to give golfers the exact same experience as playing golf outdoors or on a practice green.
Kuiper said the options are limitless with the practical uses to where the ViReGo golf can be incorporated — which is ripe with entertainment and revenue-generating opportunities — so the finished product should do well on the open market.
For additional information, visit their website virego.club or call Kuiper at 770-503-5012.