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BOB WEST ON GOLF — 5 Under Golf Center makes strong impression

My first move after touring the upgraded 5 Under Golf Center in Beaumont, and playing a few holes from Bandon Dunes in one of the Topgolf Swing Suites Thursday night, was to call the youngest of the West boys and rave about it.

“Grayson, you are not going to believe what they have done with Games People Play,” I told him, in reference to one of his favorite golf hangouts as a kid. “You are familiar with Topgolf. Well this is like Topgolf on steroids. It’s so upscale you would expect to see it in Dallas or Houston, not Beaumont.”

Turns out I was not the only one making that exact comparison after three soft openings at what seems destined to become perhaps the most popular and in-demand entertainment venue in Southeast Texas.

“I heard several people say exactly what you did about Dallas and Houston,” said Austin Williams, whose bold vision of expansion and taking the popular Topgolf model to another level looks like a stroke of genius. “Folks loved it. They kept saying they were blown away. There was lots of excitement.”

By adding four indoor Topgolf Swing Suites, a restaurant and a sports bar feel to 5 Under’s soon-to-be double-decked outdoor Toptracer hitting bays, Williams and his investment group are offering a first-of-its-kind facility on College Street.

There are numerous outdoor Topgolf outlets with double, triple and quadruple level hitting bays in the state’s bigger cites. The Four Seasons hotel in Houston has a setup with indoor Topgolf Swing Suites. But 5 Under is the only place with both, and with so many options that go beyond golf.

While the main lure of the Swing Suites is being able to play over 75 high profile golf courses on a big screen simulator, several other virtual games are available. Choices include baseball, football, soccer, hockey and even zombie dodgeball. It’s an irresistible hook for kids of all ages.

The possibilities for special gatherings seem limitless. With the Swing Suites accommodating up to eight people at a time, they can host golf leagues and competitions, corporate gatherings, birthday bashes and bachelor parties. They host just about anything, really, where folks want to socialize and play games.

Based on the soft openings and word of mouth, the Swing Suites and restaurant were packed on opening weekend. Williams said numerous parties have been scheduled up through the Christmas holidays. Reservations can be made by calling 409-232-0205 or by going online to www.opentable.com.

Hours are 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. That’s roughly a 110-hour week.

Though the Swing Suites, sports bar and restaurant are getting the most attention now, visitors can’t help but notice and probably shop in the retail facility up front. Top of the line equipment and upscale golf apparel are available for purchase. There is even a putting green.

The double decker outside hitting bays are a work in progress, with completion projected for early March. Once ready, they will have the capacity to handle up to 120 golfers at a time. There will be netting 155 feet tall around the range, surrounded by some 48,000 square feet of artificial turf.

Guests will also have access to an outdoor restaurant, bar and a live entertainment stage.

Basically, it’s Disney World for golfers, gamers and groups of fun seekers.

CHIP SHOTS

Senior golfers in South County were saddened last week by the unexpected passing of 73-year-old Port Arthuran Charles Cooksey. The organizer of the popular “Cooksey Game” at Babe Zaharias, Cooksey died early last Thursday of what was believed to be a heart attack.

Dennis Walsh and Craig Fontentot are heading up an impromptu collection to help Cooksey’s brothers with final expenses. Anybody who would like to contribute can get with Walsh or Fontentot, or leave a donation in an envelope with Babe Zaharias head pro Mitch Duncan . . .

Both Chris Stroud and Andrew Landry came up short in the final tournament of the fall portion of the 2019-20 PGA Tour schedule. Stroud missed the RSM cut in Sea Island, Georgia, by one stroke after rounds of 71-68. Landry, who made only one of seven fall cuts, shot 71-70 . . .

Braden Bailey got an unexpected treat last week when Houston Astros vice president and general counsel Giles Kibbe invited him to play in the Pro-Member at Astro owner Jim Crane’s posh Floridian National Golf Club. Crane’s partner, by the way, was Ricky Fowler.

Among the highlights for Baily was a practice round with Dustin Johnson and his legendary instructor, Butch Harmon. “It was fun to watch Dustin hit his driver,” Bailey said. “Everything was super laid back. That is such an amazing place.” . . .

The foursome of Tony Trevino, Bill Hammond, Roger Baumer and Darrell Mouille tied the front (minus-1) and won the back with minus-3 in the Monday Senior 50 Plus Game at Zaharias. Also minus 1 on the front was the team of Doug LeBlanc, Calvin Landry, John Jessen and Paul Duplantis . . .

Last Wednesday’s Babe Zaharias DogFight was played in a flighted, two-man team competition, with the front nine played in a best ball format and the back nine a scramble.

First Flight was won with a 63 by the duo of Dwayne Morvant-Bob West. Ted Freeman-Butch Cross took Second Flight with a 68. In Third Flight, Ron Mistrot-John LeBlanc tied Adam Noel-Robert Stansbury at 68. Larry Foster-Paul Brown took Fourth Flight with a 73.

Closest to the pin winners were Cap Hollier (No. 2), Freeman (No. 7), Landry (No. 12) and Earl Richard (No. 15) . . .

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net