How did The Barn at The River Club become a multi-functional driving range

By: July 10, 2024

I have written before about who the golf clubs who understand the importance of investing in driving range experience and do not only look at the cost side of this investment can answer at least three business challenges at the same time:

  1. By improving the driving range experience, we can attract even “armchair golfers” and non-golfers by utilizing driving range technology solutions like those mentioned above.
  2. It helps you to relieve the overcapacity of your golf course, too.
  3. A new source of revenue: extra F&B revenues.

Even at present, my perspective on the significance and function of the driving range experience remains unchanged.

The River Club Boise Idaho the team

I contend that maximizing its utility by integrating various functions is advantageous, as The River Club (in Boise, Idaho) case exemplifies.

An average driving range operating solely without supplementary features and services may fail to generate adequate revenue for a golf club. How do you perceive this situation?

The River Club – The Barn driving range

Brian Curley, golf course architect, shares my views mentioned above on driving ranges. He was hired by California developer Will Gustafson (the new owner of The River Club since 2018) to put his beliefs into practice at the new, state-of-the-art practice facility, ‘The Barn,’ at the River Club in Boise, Idaho.

The golf club was established in 1916 and features a course—6,376 yards, par 71—designed by Chandler Egan. In 1930, it changed its name to Plantation Country Club.

Project details

Part of the project required reducing the amount of land occupied by the golf course to allow for 20 acres of future development along State Street, a busy east-west transportation corridor.

Curley’s new design shortens the course from 6,376 yards, par 71, to around 5,800 yards, par 68. He says the changes will essentially equate to removing back tees and will not lose effective distance for most golfers. 

The River Club Boise Idaho The Barn inside
‘The Barn’ – a unique practice facility

‘The Barn’ is a unique practice facility with 10 bays designed for year-round use. 4 bays are equipped with Trackman to give golfers instant feedback on their swing.

In Boise, summer temperatures often reach 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). The Barn allows golfers to remain cool and comfortable as they practice their swing under the misters and fans while enjoying a full bar and food service ordered via their smartphone.

In the meantime, a robotic golf ball retrieving vacuum (as yet unnamed!) keeps things tidy by retrieving hundreds of golf balls and returning them to a large bin to be, once again, distributed to golfers. 

In chilly winter months, The Barn transitions to a full-service simulator building.

Golfers swing into screens with high-definition projections of hundreds of golf courses, while heaters protect from the elements.

The Barn’s ability to convert from summer to winter golf amenity makes it an invaluable asset to The River Club and its members.

The River Club Boise Idaho The Barn tees

Curley’s new practice facility at the River Club, which officially opened last month for the golf season, occupies only half an acre of land and features artificial turf, which requires very little maintenance.

Golf ball retrieving robots – gaining momentum

Robotic mowers in golf courses and public parks have become commonplace, and robotic golf ball retrievers are widely expected to replace traditional ones eventually.

Robot pickers and mowers mitigate two prominent issues:

  • The first pertains to personnel scarcity. Virtually every enterprise in America, including golf courses, grapples with workforce shortages.
  • The second issue revolves around effective time utilization.

Therefore, I thought to compose a list of golf ball-retrieving robots available today in the market:

  • Echo Robotics: with a tank capacity of 300 balls/cycle. The coverage area is 6 acres (24,281 sqm).
  • AMS Robotics: 300 balls/cycle + 30,000 sqm coverage area
  • Range Picker by Relox Robotics: Picks up to 30,000 golf balls per day
  • Pik’r Range Picking Robot: The Pik’r-1500: Up to 6 acres / Up to 30,000 balls/day; The Pik’r – Alpha: Large: 5 – 15 acres / 20,000 – 80,000 balls/day.