Backwoods Golf swings into Republic

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Golfers looking to work on their game have a new option in Republic with the opening of Backwoods Golf LLC.

The golf driving range development, including nearly 30 driving bays, Toptracer Range technology and a full-service restaurant and bar, opened May 22 at 6155 W. Republic Road.

Construction began in July 2019 on the $4 million project, said General Manager Austin Cloud, who with Charlie Locher co-owns the venture. Locher also owns Monett-based Architectural Systems Inc.

R.E. Smith Construction Co. served as general contractor for the development, with Ireland Architects Inc. serving the designer of the roughly 15,000-square-foot clubhouse.

“This allows people a better opportunity to train and we wanted to bring this to the area because there’s not been really anything like this,” Cloud said of the 19-acre development, which sits across from Republic High School. “This is a 12-month venue where people can practice their game when it’s not nice outside.”

The clubhouse features 28 driving bays, with rentals ranging $20-$40 per hour. Based on four-person occupancy per bay, Cloud said prices are as low as $5 per player.

Games at the venue, which include longest drive and closest to the pin, are for all skill levels, he said. Toptracer Range technology shows the flight path of golf balls, instant shot replays and statistical feedback to help players make swing adjustments, according to the Toptracer website.

Cloud leads a staff of 43 people, noting he plans to grow the employee count to 50 in the near future. The driving bay area has the capacity to double to 56 bays, but he said getting business established is a priority before tackling expansion. Additional facilities beyond Republic also are a future goal, he added.

Backwoods Golf’s restaurant menu includes burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads, with prices between $5-$13, Cloud said.

The coronavirus pandemic pushed back the opening from its original early April plan, he said, adding social distancing measures are currently in place. That includes limiting the number of driving bays in operation at one time.

Cloud said the venue’s location should be a draw to multiple communities.

“With us being in between Springfield and Republic, it’s kind of the best of both worlds, in our opinion,” he said. “The land, as far as we were concerned, is pretty much perfect.”

Another Springfield-area golf driving range project is in progress, with a planned opening later this year. O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC broke ground in November 2019 on the company’s BigShots Golf franchise development in north Springfield. The project underway at the corner of Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue is a partnership between O’Reilly Hospitality and ClubCorp, which in 2018 bought controlling interest in Peoria, Illinois-based BigShots Golf LLC. BigShots is scheduled to open this fall, according to the attraction’s website.