Crestview's revived golf course will have high-tech, interactive Toptracer Range by Topgolf

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — Described as “the ultimate practice tool” for golfers, an interactive Toptracer Range is expected to be one of the top attractions at the former Foxwood Golf Course that’s being revived.

Crestview bought the 18-hole, 129-acre course and its clubhouse and amenities in August 2020, and continues to oversee major upgrades to the property southeast of U.S. Highway 90 and Antioch Road.

The Toptracer Range and renovated golf course could open in early January, and a new restaurant using much of the old clubhouse building could open by February or March, according to City Manager Tim Bolduc.

A Toptracer Range is seen at a golf course in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Crestview plans to have a Toptracer Range at the former Foxwood Golf Course when it reopens early next year.

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A Toptracer Range uses the same technology as seen on TV to allow viewers to track a player’s ball, as well as display data such as ball speed and arc height, according to Toptracer information cited by Crestview officials.

In a blending of the digital “video game” world with actual golfing, Toptracer has proven attractive to players who can “play” virtual golf in different game environments, city officials said in a news release.

They added that golfers at a Toptracer Range can try the challenges of world-famous holes through virtual play, and that Toptracer's system stores players’ data to allow them to compare their progress as they improve their swings.

Toptracer Range is a brand of Dallas-based Topgolf Entertainment Group. The ranges are found in 29 countries, with the closest in Dothan, Alabama, 103 miles from downtown Crestview.

Crestview plans to feature a Toptracer Range at the former Foxwood Golf Course when it reopens early next year.

Like those at other locations, the Toptracer Range slated for Crestview will help generate additional golf course revenue and bring people to the course outside its regular hours, Bolduc told the City Council recently.

“When the sun goes down, the golf course dies,” Bolduc said at last week’s council meeting. “We want to bring in Toptracer to make our driving range an after-hours attraction.”

Using the driving range’s existing tee box, the Toptracer Range will have 15 bays, which will include outdoor lounge furniture and cooling fans.

“So you can have 15 people different people playing at one time,” Bolduc told the council. “During the day, when there are (golf) games going on and people are playing and they want to hit the driving range beforehand, there will a way where they can get buckets of balls and use it like a normal driving range. But as you get through the day, you can do parties” and other events at the Toptracer Range.

“Municipal golf courses across America have always been hard to be profitable, and part of that is because it’s just a golf course,” Councilman Andrew Rencich said. “So the more tributary factors and revenue streams we can have funneling into one location is ultimately going to help it succeed.”

In response to a question from Rencich, Bolduc said the cost of a typical outing at a Toptracer Range “is a dynamic number.”

“We’ve got to hit the price points for Crestview,” Bolduc said. “I don’t have an overall number yet.”

The old Foxwood Golf Course and clubhouse were closed in October 2017 after its owners experienced years of financial trouble because of declining demand.

Last year, the city used $1.2 million in bond money to purchase the property while noting that demand for the golf course had rebounded.

The city has partnered with GreatLIFE Services of Lenexa, Kansas, to manage the course and clubhouse. From $2 million in borrowed money set aside to revive the property, the city is paying up to $1.64 million to Mammoth Sports Construction of Meriden, Kansas, to repair and improve the golf course.

The council last week unanimously agreed to increase the $2 million that had been budgeted to $2.5 million to pay for the Toptracer Range, construction of a full-service restaurant in the clubhouse and other additional costs.

Bolduc said he would provide final costs on the various items at an upcoming council meeting. A financial consultant working with the city will help determine whether the extra money should come from additional borrowed funds or existing city funding.

The old clubhouse had a conference room and a bar with dartboards, but no kitchen. A kitchen will be added to have a full-service restaurant, and a billiards table could be added to the bar area.

Plans also call for the old swimming pool next to the clubhouse to be filled in and converted into the restaurant’s covered outdoor seating area. The restaurant could have almost 300 seats inside and out.

City officials also are considering adding cornhole boards and two pickleball courts next to the restaurant. In addition, a tiki bar will be added at one end of the driving range, which will receive new netting.

GreatLIFE Services is working with a local restaurant company to potentially run the restaurant and tiki bar, Bolduc told the council. He said the restaurant could generate $1 million to $1.5 million in annual revenue, much of which would be used with other golf course-related revenues to pay off the borrowed money.

“We’re going to put our trust in you,” Councilman Joe Blocker told Bolduc in regards to the latest planned site work. “Don’t let us down.”

“I wouldn’t bring it if I didn’t think it would work, and I’ll shoulder it if it doesn’t,” Bolduc answered.

Bolduc said Wednesday that he anticipates the new name of the golf course will be revealed soon.