I have always said golf is like country music. It’s not going anywhere, ready whenever you wanna join in.
Five Iron Golf is an example of the sport’s versatility, and golf’s growing adaptability to different demographics and environments. The new space opens Monday on Area15’s second floor, sharing the same upstairs neighborhood as the fluorescent-flashing Museum Fiasco and Wink World.
Five Iron’s name draws from the company’s flagship business in New York City, located on Fifth Avenue of the Flatiron District in Manhattan. The new club is the latest in a string of entertainment amenities that have just opened or are about to at Area15, including Emporium Arcade Bar, Todd English The Beast, ElectroRoll pop-up rollerskating rink, and Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart. All are expected to be online by the end of February.
And, you can now set a tee time at Area15. How does a golf haven fit into the experiential entertainment district’s master plan? Seamlessly, operators hope. The multicolored, urban-tinged space covers 6,300 square feet with eight golf simulators. Murals splash color across the venue, and it’s casual vibe is evident with such touches as the neon “Straight Flushed” sign over the restrooms.
The octet of simulators show a variety of guests. Visitors who have booked a proper lesson hit the virtual links next to groups hanging out casual casually, enjoying drinks from its full bar and noshes from The Beast.
The venue’s director of golf is Sean Solodovnick, a pro for more than 25 years in Florida and Las Vegas. The Fitting Lab is the venue’s fully equipped, on-site pro shop.
Five Iron also offers a TV wall and a dozen big-screen monitors broadcasting major PGA/LPGA tournaments or even such off-golf events as NFL or Vegas Golden Knights games. Plans are in the offing for pingpong and shuffleboard to move into the room
The space is open to about 40 guests during COVID times, ripe for booking by conventions or bachelor/bachelorette parties. Co-founder and chief executive officer Jared Solomon says the company plans to use all the clubs in the bag, as it were, in its Vegas venture.
“Our vision and philosophy is to appeal to the serious golfer, and entertainment golfer, or even the non-golfer,” Solomon said Saturday during a phone chat from New York City. “We feel that we need to be the best at both of those things. If you’re taking a golf lesson next to someone having quesadillas, both the lesson and the casual experience should be elite.”
About 100 pro courses are available for virtual play on the club’s TrackMan simulator. If you haven’t experienced the unique sensation of splashing a tee shot into the ocean on No. 7 at Pebble Beach, opportunity knocks.
Solomon actually picked up the game on a simulator. He remembers his first course as Bethpage Black Golf Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. Now he’s a member at Sleepy Hollow Country Club above the Hudson River in New York, one of the courses you can play (or, tear up) at Five Iron.
Five Iron launched in NYC in 2017, and already operates in Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and with plans to expand to Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh this year. Vegas, a famous golfing destination for tourists, is the company’s first western outpost.
As the company took shape, the co-founders worked floor shifts at the New York location. Solomon, a day trader on Wall Street, often worked at Five Iron after the market closed.
“We are seeing golfers learning the game on a simulator before they ever play on a real course,” Solomon said. “We’re taking a historically exclusive sport and democratizing it, making it for everyone.”
Inevitable are the comparisons to Top Golf, the outdoor, multilevel golf and entertainment fortress at MGM Grand. Where Top Golf gives an real-world experience of distance and accuracy with multiple targets (and a view of the Strip), Five Iron relies on a consistent, climate-controlled, virtual experience.
Obviously, there are no weather concerns inside the Five Iron Golf club. Also, a former Top Golf official, General Manager Kenny Ray, heads up the Five Iron team in Las Vegas.
“You can come in, anytime, and enjoy,” Ray said Friday night during a friends-and-family preview of the space. “Being in this environment, you feel like you’re not working. That’s kind of what Five Iron is all about.”
Ray was immediately aware Area15 was a different sort of golf haven.
“If you give me one word, I would say, ‘Unique,’” Ray said. “It’s something you’ve never experienced before. You just have to come and see it.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.