“This is a missing puzzle piece that every community would love to have, especially Champlin,” Champlin Mayor Ryan Karasek said at the Nov. 22 ribbon cutting ceremony at X-Golf.
X-Golf officially opened its doors in Champlin last week and hosted a grand opening event Nov. 23.
The indoor golf facility is a side venture of Minnesota Capital Management or MCM. MCM began in 2011 as a group of residential property investors. The six partners behind MCM have reached success through buying real estate and other residential properties and leasing them, MCM Vice President Bryan Patrick said. “We came across the opportunity to open some X-Golf franchises this past winter, took a look at their business model, and decided it was something we should go after,” Patrick added.
Last December, members of MCM stumbled across X-Golf in Woodbury when looking for some fun related to a hobby many MCM staff members participate in — golf. In order to secure some tee time at a simulator bay an online reservation is required. While on the website, Patrick and company stumbled across information on how to franchise the national chain. “We kind of half jokingly looked at it, and then it was like, oh, this actually fits a lot with what we’re trying to do with other parts of our business,” Patrick said. Since then, Patrick and MCM President Ben Feret continued research and conversations required to open their own X-Golf.
This is the investment groups first franchise model. Through Airbnb properties they own in Vegas, the retail investment has gotten a taste of being a franchisee and interacting with customers. “Otherwise it’s just the standard residential real estate, tenant-landlord stuff,” Patrick said.
MCM’s solution to comfortably entering a new-ish market has been hiring a general manager with restaurant and golf industry experience for both their Champlin-based X-Golf and their second location that is expected to open next month in Blaine. A golf professional has also been hired and will split time between both locations. About 10 hourly employees will be hired at each facility as well.
In addition to six golfing bays, a full bar and a menu of simple bites, like nachos, pizza and burgers, will be offered at each location.
In comparison, to Brooklyn Center-based Top Golf, Patrick said X-Golf is less like a video game and more similar to the actual sport. “You chip, you putt, you do all that stuff.” X-Golf also offers a more intimate setting, as there are six bays that can host four to six people as opposed to over 100 stations.
“We want people to come have some drinks, have some food, enjoy themselves, and play golf in the middle of winter,” Patrick said. In addition to golfing at one bay as a social outing with friends or family, different leagues and groups are welcome to rent out the whole space.
The simulation set-up includes a platform lined with turf in front of a projector that is meant to mimic a golf course. High speed cameras, lasers, optical and impact sensors are used in combination to create a realistic experience. According to the X-Golf website, shape, carry and distance of the swing is determined by the golf club’s path, the impact of the hit, the club head speed, the ball direction, the launch angle, the ball speed, the ball’s spin rate and how hard the ball smashes the screen.
Although, all the advanced technology used to create may sound intimidating, Patrick said X-Golf eliminates the stigma associated with going to an actual golf course. Sometimes if you aren’t a good golfer or take a while at a hole, “you can kind of get this feeling like the people behind you want to go and you’re holding up the whole show,” Patrick said. Golf courses seem to be getting better about creating an open environment, but the intimidation that can happen on a real-life course doesn’t exist at X-Golf because you’re in your own bay, Patrick added.
Additionally, if you don’t have your own set of clubs, there is a full-service club putting shop within each X-Golf facility.
Looking ahead, Patrick said the long range plan is to open more X-Golf locations in the Minneapolis area. “Obviously we want to see how these two go, but we’re really, really excited about the market and the type of business that X-Golf is.”