Golf in a Box
Saline Scores X Golf
by Billie Ochberg
From the September, 2017 issue
California's Pebble Beach is set to host its sixth U.S. Open in 2019. Ever wondered how you might fare on its world-famous links? You can soon find out without leaving Michigan. This fall, business partners Jeff Tapp and Melissa Miller will open their virtual golf experience, X Golf Ann Arbor, in the Commons at Sauk Trail.
"The technology is from Korea, and it is amazing," Tapp says, grinning as if ready to tee off. "It's like you're really on the course. You hit a real ball directly into the huge screen, and a sensor above you picks up its trajectory, spin, and speed.
"There are other golf simulation businesses out there, but nothing compares to the sophisticated technology you get from X Golf," Tapp says. "I'm an avid golfer, and I've tried 'em all.
"X Golf is a franchise, and what's unique is that we'll get over 150 simulated world golf courses and all the copyrighted updates as they come out. We can't all get to Pebble Beach, but the Pebble Beach simulation is incredible, and, with our busy lives, we don't always have time to play eighteen holes anyway. Or, it's winter and you can't play outside, but with this technology you can play year-round! I can play eighteen holes in less than an hour," he says.
Tapp, forty-two, lives in South Lyon and teaches middle school P.E. in Dearborn. He and Miller, a nurse, discovered X Golf from friends who own the Novi franchise.
"We played in its indoor leagues and loved it. About a year ago, we started researching, hoping to open a franchise on our own along the 94 corridor, and we've found that Saline is the perfect fit. Everyone here has been great. It's got a small-town feel, but it's also well situated, with Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti so close by." (It was the corporate office that decided to call the franchise "Ann Arbor" rather than "Saline.") They're right next door to another
regional entertainment destination, Emagine Theatre.
Tapp has lined up a local PGA pro for customers interested in private lessons. Weeknights will be reserved for league play, while weekends will be open booking. Tapp says he's already getting plenty of reservations. "I get the feeling we're gonna get booked pretty fast," he says. "It's a good problem."
A bar will serve mixed drinks, wine, and beers on draft including at least one local beer. Food will include options like chicken tenders, pizza, hot pretzels, and hot dogs. In warmer months, patrons can sit at an outdoor patio and watch sports television. Another area will have darts and shuffleboard. "And, we'll have music," says Tapp. Since he and Miller are keeping their day jobs, his wife, Charlotte, and Miller's husband, John, will manage the business.
Andy Kwon, who owns Biwako Sushi a couple doors down, recently vacationed in Korea. "We call it 'screen golf' in Korea, and just about every block has a screen golf cafe," says Kwon, who says he rarely gets time to play golf these days. "Maybe I can get in a game of X Golf, since it goes faster."
One reason Kwon's so busy is that he's just opened a new patio. "We have a liquor license, so it took a lot longer to get the patio permit than I expected," he says. "We had to wait for approval from the city and state. I'm glad it's finally opened."
Initially, he's serving outdoors only during the dinner hour. "It's shady in the evening," says Kwon. "If customers tell me they want to sit outside for lunch, we may open the patio then." He expects to keep the patio open until Thanksgiving.
X Golf Ann Arbor, 1345 E. Michigan Ave. (Commons at Sauk Trail), Saline. 516-4789. Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 8 a.m.-midnight, Sun. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. xgolfannarbor.com
[Originally published in September, 2017.]
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