Spirit Hollow opens Toptracer Range for year-round heated golf

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Spirit Hollow Golf Course just opened a new driving range powered by Toptracer, a ball-tracking technology that uses high tech cameras.

The Shankapotamus Golf Academy at Lambo's opened on Monday.

"We were trying to figure out some sort of amenity that our stay and play guests could use who come out here for golf in the summertime," Jim Wyffels, General Manager at Spirit Hollow said. "We also wanted something that people could do in the wintertime. Obviously, in the midwest, there isn't much to do in the winter and we wanted to be able to provide some sort of golf component and a great food and beverage and something for, you know, if you wanted to bring your kids out also."

Wyffells says in the golf business, winter and early dark hours make for bad business because "You were pretty much done," he said.

Now that Spirit Hollow has its Toptracer Range, however, golfers of all skill levels will be able to practice year-round.

"We could care less if it snows. You're in here in a heated environment hitting golf balls," Wyffels said.

Golfers stand in seven heated bays overlooking the driving range and aim at custom-built flags.

"No one else has the targets in the United States. We're the first ones and the targets are all LED let so at night it's very impressive at night," Wyffells said.

Players use whatever club they want and know exactly where the ball goes by looking at each bay's tv screens that show the ball's path, yardage, carry distance, height at its apex, and hang time.

The concept may remind people of Topgolf, which owns Toptracer.

"Toptracer utilizes cameras. Topgolf has a chip in the golf ball so it's a completely different way to build it. It's tracking your golf ball, the technology is every bit as good and accurate. It's just the targets out there, you're not hitting into a target, you're hitting the ball and it's tracking it and it's responding with your information on the screens that we have." Wyffells said.

Each bay has its own iPad from which people can order food and drinks from a brand new kitchen. The new range is adjacent to a brand new party space popular for events. There are bags games and shuffleboard.

"We want to promote the Burlington residents and surrounding communities to come out and have something to do, something different to do, especially in the winter time," Wyffells said.

Construction on the project started in June. Wyffells says it cost more than $1 million.

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