It is summertime along the Alabama Gulf Coast. This usually means it is either pouring down rain or we have a heat index of 105.
Either way, it can still be the perfect conditions for a round of golf. Well, maybe not at a traditional course.
What you need is a comfortable, climate-controlled location with simulated links that offers frothy adult beverages. Fortunately, such a site now exists in our area.
The Fairways Indoor Golf Club opened in February at the Spanish Fort Town Center, between the Bass Pro Shop and Town Center Park.
Once you step inside the facility, you might assume it’s part of a large electronic-gaming chain. Well, you would be wrong.
“We are locally owned and operated,” said Kristen Lautenslager, who runs Fairways Indoor Golf Club with her husband, Michael. “He saw the idea one day on the Golf Channel. He is a mechanical engineer, so he decided to build a golf simulator in our garage in West Mobile.”
The little project not only worked, it took off.
“All of our friends would come over to play golf,” Kristen said, adding they are moving to Baldwin County to be closer to the business. “They told us we should really think about opening up a place to let the public play.”
After finding a location at the Spanish Fort Town Center, they started to construct the four bays. They took the basic concept of Michael’s prototype, but then updated with state-of-the-art technology and software.
It is a camera-based system that measures the speed of the club head and the direction of the ball. Players strike a real golf ball into a 15-foot-wide screen, and a computer gauges the distance and location on the simulated course. The high-definition video projector also supplies statistical information about each swing.
The computer software they purchased can display 87 different courses from around the world, such as Pebble Beach in California, Oakmont in Pennsylvania and Doral in Florida. Driving and chipping ranges can be selected, and players can compete in long-drive and closest-to-the-hole contests. Individuals can also rent a bay just to practice their swing.
On a recent Saturday morning, two bays were filled almost as soon as the door opened. One group included friends who were celebrating one of the foursome’s birthday. The other gathering included a family and friends just spending some quality time together. All mentioned it was their first time there, and they were having fun.
“Business has been really picking up,” Kristen said. “People are starting to find out about it. We are heavy on social media, but we also benefit from word-of-mouth compliments.”
On this day, all the players had brought their own clubs as they would at an outdoor course. Fairways Indoor Golf Club, however, can rent a set for $5.
The business is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight; and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. With a full-service bar on site, happy hour specials are offered 4-7 p.m.
The regular rate is $38 an hour to use the simulator. It is like a bowling lane, where the cost can be split among the participants. On weekdays, a special rate of $28 an hour is offered before 4 p.m. Other promotional pricing can be found at their website. Kristen said they can also handle fund-raisers and corporate events.
To learn more about the attraction or to book a tee time, call 251-621-5277 or visit www.FairwaysIndoorGolfClub.com.
● When Auburn or Alabama are playing football, it is usually pretty easy to find the televised games at most local establishments. What about the rest of the college fans? Where do they go to see their favorite team?
If you know of a location hosting fans for a certain school, please send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. The plan is to run the entire list prior to the start of the 2016 gridiron season.
The first announcement comes from the OK Bicycle Shop in Mobile. A manager said the Dauphin Street business would be an official “watch party” location for the Ole Miss Rebels, along with the Old 27 Grill in Fairhope.
● The South Alabama Jaguars had eight players receive recognition on the all-Sun Belt Conference preseason squad. On the first-team were Gerald Everett and Jeremy Reaves.
Everett, who is on the John Mackey Award preseason watch list, led South last season with 41 receptions for 575 yards and eight touchdowns. Reaves is the team’s top returning tackler after collecting a career-best 96 stops.
Making the second-team list were Roman Buchanan, Kalen Jackson, Xavier Johnson, Josh Magee, Aleem Sunanon and Curtis Williams. The league’s 11 head coaches and selected media members did the voting.
● Former Spring Hill College pitcher Wesley Parrish has signed a contact with the Tucson Saguaros of the Pecos League. So far this season he has allowed no runs in three of his first four outings, while claiming a 1-0 record and one save.
The Fairhope native, who played at UMS-Wright, won 17 games during his career on The Hill. He appeared in 38 games, pitching 209 innings and striking out 199. The right-hander helped the Badgers to a conference best record of 18-3 record in 2016.
● Jason Mendel, a rising junior at USA, tied for fourth place at the recent Oglethorpe Invitational golf tournament in Savannah, Georgia. He finished with a 4-under par total of 209. Mendel also finished among the top five this summer at the Yamaha Atlanta Open in June.
● USA won the Sun Belt Conference’s Vic Bubas Cup for the second straight time during the 2015-16 academic year. The award recognizes the league’s most successful athletic program
South Alabama won four Sun Belt championships (women’s cross country, soccer, women’s outdoor track and baseball). The Jags also had 15 of 17 teams finish among the top half of the conference rankings.