By Carrie Parker
At Simplay, patrons can hurl dodgeballs at the undead, propel a golf ball down the greenway at Pebble Beach, peg a touchdown, pop a fly ball, or relax and have a drink. But that’s just the beginning of the possibilities.
The 15,000-square-foot space in Hauppauge serves as a sports simulator haven, indoor training center, bar hangout, corporate meeting space and private event hall rolled into one, resisting conventional labels.
With so much under one roof, co-owner Chuck Merritt, of Plainview, said, “A person can come in and practice golf for half an hour, or you can have a 250 person bar mitzvah and rent out the whole place – and everything in between.”
Managing partners Merritt and Chris Wyllie, of Center Moriches, describe Simplay as a multi-sport simulator facility with “an indoor country club feel.” Since November 2015, the business’s versatile format has served couples going out on a Saturday night, families looking for weekend fun, and corporate executives hosting company events.
While the entertainment venue Dave & Buster’s boasts a comparable restaurant, arcade, and sports bar combination, the ambiance at Simplay is a “step up” from that, Merritt said, and unquestionably sets itself apart with the simulator technology, provided by the Canadian engineering firm Visual Sports.
There six open bay simulators that share the main space with a real putting green and also two VIP rooms each with their own private simulator, dry bar, audio system and flat-screen TV. These rooms are ideal, Merritt said, for “taking out clients for the night and want a little bit more of an intimate setting.”
Simplay’s aim to appeal to a corporate clientele coincides with its location in the Hauppauge Industrial Park.
“We built the place out to have an adult, corporate feel so that it would be an events space for corporations not only in Hauppauge but on Long Island,” Merritt said. “We do welcome families and we do welcome children because of the multi-sport aspect, but the business model is based around corporate executives looking to do something unique with either their staff or their clients.”
The idea, however, began with golfers.
“A few of my friends, my brother, and Chuck are all very avid golfers,” Wyllie said. “And they were trying to find a place in winter. People were driving ridiculous distances to go try to play golf in the winter time.”
Now they can play 87 courses from around the world, including Pebble Beach and Bethpage Black, without leaving Suffolk.
While golf simulator technology has been around for several decades, there is nothing antiquated about Simplay. The simulators, each manned by a sleek touch screen monitor, operate in conjunction with cameras and sensors that track movement, speed, angle, spin, and calculate statistics. Projectors beam the graphics onto the 16-foot screens, which can be converted into floor-to-ceiling TVs, like they were on Super Bowl Sunday for the big game.
Each monitor is equipped with field-goal football, beat-the-goalie hockey, rugby, home-run derby baseball, quarterback challenge, soccer, and zombie dodgeball. The first bay is also equipped with the newest game they have: “Wild Game Hunt,” which Merritt said is “definitely a cool game for that hunting enthusiast.”
“It’s really a home video game console slash Wii on steroids,” Merritt said.
Each of the six bays has its own sports equipment and is backed by a counter with bar stools. Rates for the regular simulators (subject to change) are $55 per one-hour session and VIP simulators are $75. Sessions can be booked online.
While waiting for their next turn from, players can order food and drinks from Sips, Simplay’s cocktail lounge, which features happy hour, sports on TV round-the-clock, and sometimes live music.
Simplay also has two event rooms. The smaller of the two comfortably seats 50-60 guests and can be rented in conjunction with an adjoining VIP room. The larger room serves up to 200 guests, has its own parking lot and private entrance, as well as TVs for presentations or video reels. Large events also start with a 60-90 minute cocktail hour and a reserved session on the six simulators.
Wyllie and Merritt met 15 years ago through their wives who took ballroom dance lessons together. To the business, Wyllie brings an extensive knowledge of technology stemming from his background as a Navy SEAL. He subsequently translated his work with sophisticated electronic equipment during his seven years in the service into his audio/visual company SEAL Solutions. Merritt, as the head of Merritt Environmental Consulting Corp, lends his business expertise and managerial experience.
Merritt sees Simplay as an alternative to the old standbys like bowling, movie night, or trampoline places.
“Here it’s full family participation,” Merritt said. “Dad and son can play football. Dad and daughter can play soccer. Mom and son can play zombie dodgeball. And if one of the adults chooses not to, you have a little spot here to have a few drinks.”