RALEIGH — Golfers in the Triangle that have always dreamed of playing the Old Course at St. Andrews but couldn’t get the time off for work or afford the flight to Scotland now have another option.
OK, so they won’t actually be treading on the same hallowed grounds as Jack, Tiger, Old Tom Morris and the other greats of the game. But thanks to modern technology and the newly opened Drive Shack, they’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Swilken Bridge as they prepare to tee off and play a virtual version of the game’s most famous venue.
The ability to play courses such as St. Andrews without leaving the air-conditioned confines of a three-story driving range is just one of the features awaiting duffers and scratch players alike when the new golf and entertainment facility opens to the public on Friday.
There are also skills challenges that give players the feeling that they’re inside a video game, including one in which they hunt monsters and another that’s a golf version of the card game blackjack. Serious players can work on improving their swing with Pro Practice, an analytic device that uses “TrackMan” technology to provide data on ball distance, spin and speed, or by working with Jared Morrow, the PGA professional on staff.
The new facility, located just down the road from PNC Arena off Interstate 40, debuted last Friday with a gala event for invited guests and members of the media. Among those in attendance were mascots from the three local ACC schools, along with sequin-clad employees that gave the evening the look and feel of a Hollywood opening.
As smoothly as things went, there were still a few kinks that need to be worked out before next week’s official opening. The most glaring was the that Drive Shack’s newly created address — 6901 Play Golf Way — is not yet programmed into all GPS systems, causing confusion among Uber and Lyft drivers trying to drop people off there.
The good news is that there is plenty of parking on site.
As much as there is to see and do, including 300-plus televisions all tuned to various sporting events, retro video games, a wide variety of food and drink options, and live music that will be featured on the weekends at the indoor-outdoor bar on the third floor, the centerpiece of the new facility is the 96 climate-controlled driving bays.
Each is equipped with a full set of TaylorMade RJ model clubs – available in men’s, women’s and youth sizes for both right- and left-handers – an automatic ball delivery device, seating for up to six, television monitors and wait service.
In addition to individual play and team building events, frequent social events such as leagues, boozy brunches, college nights and seasonal events are also in the works, as is a weeklong Summer Swing Academy for junior players.
“We’ve tried to think of everything,” general manager Dan Godfrey said earlier this summer.
The Raleigh Drive Shack will become the company’s second location. The other, which has been in operation for about a year, is in Orlando, Fla. Further expansion is planned for West Palm Beach, Fla., Richmond, Va., New York City and New Orleans.