JACKSON, Mich. — It’s a long, cold winter here in mid-Michigan, but inside Jackson’s Ella Sharp Park Clubhouse, golf season lasts all year long, and the simulator is so popular, they’re doubling down.
“With league play, college teams coming in, high school teams coming, it doesn’t leave a lot for open play, and we actually turn people away from the leagues just because we don’t have enough designated space, and there’s designated time,” City Parks Director Kelli Hoover said. “So you can be out here at 7 a.m. on Sunday, and there’s people playing golf league, so it’s pretty packed.”
She says a full tee sheet has them generating around $40,000 to $45,000 a year with the simulator.
Now, city council approved close to $300,000 to buy a second simulator.
“The great thing about a second simulator it doesn’t really cost us any more staffing in those types of expenses to add a second simulator because people are already based here for the first so it would be nothing but revenue,” Hoover said.
But, it’s more than just a place to practice golf. People have used the facility to watch sports games or even have a bridal shower.
“I think if you’re living in Michigan and the weather is bad outside, people are looking for that experience that they can get out of their house, come out and enjoy some friends, hang out and maybe watch a game or hit some golf balls,” Hoover said. “I think people want that experience in the winter, so you’re not just tied up inside.”
She says more improvements to Ella Sharp will be coming around the corner. In 2024, plans call for an upgrade the mini-golf course across the street.
“It was originally built in the ‘90s. It’s in need of an upgrade,” Hoover said. “We did some carpet changes lat year, and we’re looking to move some of the wood structures, putting in some new equipment, new fencing and new areas to sit. Things like that.”
As for the golf simulator, it’s slated to be put in by June 2023. No service disruption is planned.
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