Hyperscapes: A Member Club Built Around Virtual Golf Courses

Would you pay $50,000 to join a golf club without an actual course?

Hyperscapes Golf Club is the first members-only club built around fully virtual courses, and the first layout—crafted by Nicklaus Design on a stunning Scottish landscape within a recreated Caledonian forest from 6,000 years ago—will be available for member play on golf simulators later this year.

hyperscapes
A rendering of the recreated Caledonian forest from 6,000 years ago that will be the site for Rocabarra Cliffs

While the debut course, Rocabarra Cliffs, will exist only virtually in the metaverse, the dramatic terrain upon which it’s being created is very real.

Chad Goetz, a senior design associate at Nicklaus Design, identified a protected, one-square-mile peninsula along Scotland’s western coast that’s visually dynamic for golf but impossible to develop for physical and administrative reasons. It’s there—in a country widely recognized as the birthplace of the game—he’s constructing a golf course of the future.

“It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. It’s severe, but I think it’s the perfect canvas for the first digital-only golf course,” Goetz says.

So, how exactly does the model work?

gabor chad
Gabor Tankovics (left) and Chad Goetz

Hyperscapes is seeking to be as exclusive as some of the game’s newest high-end private clubs, limiting membership to 300 players worldwide.

“We’re talking about tech-savvy people who are fantastic amateur golfers fascinated about the game of golf. Typically, urban people,” says CEO and co-founder Gabor Tankovics, a Hungarian national who grew up in Austria and then spent extensive time in France, including a stint as a developer on a golf project in the Loire Valley.

Tankovics also has a tech background and founded a financial technology company in the student loan space prior to launching Hyperscapes in 2021, during the midst of the pandemic-fueled surge in golf engagement and interest. Now a New York resident, he notes that many of those interviewed during the pre-testing period were fellow New Yorkers and that the greatest interest in the company’s vision has come from golfers in states such as New York and Florida. He says Hyperscapes is referred to as a golf club rather than simply a course because the plan is to have services like those found in a physical golf club.

“A concierge service, virtual caddies, tournaments, instruction—we want to create a real golf club the way that communities in the 21st century work,” Tankovics says, adding that building “a lot of bridges” between the virtual aspects of this project and the physical world is essential. That could mean logoed member apparel or a real-world gathering spot where members could get together in a place like New York City to play together and socialize.

virtual golf
Modern-day photo of the site for Rocabarra Cliffs

More virtual courses will be created in the future. With every new one, there will be additional member opportunities and reciprocal agreements to play the other courses.

Tankovics notes there’s a fine line between adding more clubs into the portfolio to improve the member experience (and generate revenue) and creating so many that the exclusivity of the membership is diluted.

To be clear, Rocabarra Cliffs is different from the “fantasy courses” you might have played in video games like the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series or fictional golf holes you may have marveled at, from iconic paintings created by artist Bud Chapman to new-age, AI-generated imagery.

The depth of the Hyperscapes design is reminiscent of a real-world course, with a professional routing that climbs up and down terrain with over 375 feet of elevation change and is based on both LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping data and real-world visits to the property. Equally detailed is the replication of flora and fauna native to the area—both from today and the recreated Caledonian rain forest 6,000 years ago. In creating visuals that Tankovics says are “50 times better” than any current simulator technology, Hyperscapes utilizes photogrammetry to stitch together photographs—say thousands of a single tree—to create 3D models of a physical object or scene. It’s immersive and variable, so a member playing Rocabarra Cliffs might come across a fox on the second hole during one round and happen to see the same critter on the 7th hole weeks later.

hyperscapes
The design team walks the site for Rocabarra Cliffs

The creation of the course will take about 18 months and cost several million dollars, not far off from the price tag of some real-world courses.

Tankovics is certain there’s a market for Hyperscapes.

There’s undoubtedly an interesting synchronicity to his path in golf, as he spent four years in France working full-time on a high-end residential golf development that failed to become a reality. Now, over a decade later, he’s invested and involved in a virtual project that—one way or another—will be realized.

“You can have way more control over what we’re doing today,” he says. “And we’re hopeful memberships will be sold in the future. But it’s sure to be built and sure to be played, so that’s very satisfying.”

rendering
A rendering of the site for Rocabarra Cliffs

Would you ever consider joining a virtual golf club like Hyperscapes? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section.

THE BEST OF GOLF

FOLLOW US ON