Chris Marcum, who owns the Gainesville, Fla. club, has plans for a roughly $2.5 million driving range project that includes a two-story building with 24 hitting bays and Toptracer Range technology. Plans also include reducing the number of holes from 18 to 12 in order to mitigate the flooding issues that have plagued the course since he purchased it in 2016. Much of the debate surrounding the development has centered on how lightning, noise and parking would impact neighbors.
The Alachua County (Fla.) Commission unanimously approved plans for a two-story driving range and restaurant to be built at Meadowbrook Golf Club in Gainesville, The Gainesville Sun reported. The project, however, is still in limbo due to an approved staff recommendation that a line of pine trees down the right side of the proposed range remains in place as a visual buffer for residents.
“I don’t know if the project’s a go, to be honest,” said Meadowbrook Golf Club owner Chris Marcum. “If those trees are there what it would do is force everyone to aim to the left, which means people start aiming at 98th Street. Nobody wants that. I wouldn’t even attempt to do that.”
Marcum said he has already reached out to county staff regarding the tree requirement, The Sun reported. Plans for the roughly $2.5 million project include the two-story building with a maximum size of 15,310 sq. ft. — 6,160 sq. ft. heated/cooled — and 24 hitting bays.
Much of the debate surrounding the development has centered on how lightning, noise and parking would impact the Meadowbrook neighbors, The Sun reported. One area resident also expressed concerns about birds and other wildlife possibly getting caught in the driving range netting.
Other conditions of approval included that the driving range be closed one day a week — Marcum suggested Tuesdays — and the hours of operation limited to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekend, The Sun reported. The commission also reduced from four to one the number of pads requested for food trucks to operate.
The golf course must also be open for the driving range to remain operational, The Sun reported.
The facility would use Toptracer Range technology, which allows golfers to track their ball’s flight and distance, The Sun reported. The technology allows friends and family members to compete against each other in a variety of fun and interactive games.
The scoring targets would be illuminated using LED lights, The Sun reported. Users will be able to track their ball’s flight thanks to a flight-restricted ball that glows after being struck. The balls glow for about a minute after being hit.
If Marcum decides to move forward, the project would cause several major changes to the actual golf course, The Sun reported. To make room for the new venue, the length of the opening hole, currently a par 5, would be reduced by about 1,000 feet and turned into a par 3.
Marcum also said he plans to reduce the number of holes from 18 to 12 in order to mitigate the flooding issues that have plagued the course since he purchased it in 2016, The Sun reported. The holes slated to be removed include 2, 3, 4, 11, 15 and 16. The green on hole No. 14 would be relocated to higher ground.
The course, which has been closed since July 2021 after flooding caused by Tropical Storm Elsa, is in need of plenty of work before reopening, The Sun reported. Weeds have overtaken the fairways and greens, and several buildings and fences are in disrepair due to water damage.
Marcum has resisted residents’ pleas to maintain the course in the aftermath of Elsa, saying there’s no point in fixing up the course only for it to get flooded out again, The Sun reported.
“I will go ahead and probably cut the thing down to 6 or 8 inches and start treating it for weeds in good faith,” he said.
The course’s ultimate fate, however, likely depends on the county’s decision regarding the aforementioned tree line, The Sun reported.
“I don’t think it’s insurmountable,” Marcum said. “I would hate to think that that’s what stands in the way of the golf course reopening.”