A causal invitation from one friend to another has resulted in the creation of one of the area’s most unique new businesses.
Brian Lindenbaum and John-Michael Speelman are co-founders and co-owners of 1899 Indoor Golf, which opened in November.
Located at 4700 Everhard Road NW in Jackson Township, 1899 Golf has found its niche: providing a year-round, weatherproof venue for golfers.
“When we started talking about the idea, it just seemed like something the community would want and need,” Lindenbaum said.
The idea came to fruition after a holiday visit by the two former New Yorkers to Stark County in 2017. Their wives, Liz Bradley Lindenbaum and Erica Burmeister Speelman, grew up in Alliance and have been friends since high school.
Bradley Lindenbaum is the owner of Selene Stone, a boutique in downtown Canton.
During the visit, Lindenbaum suggested that he and Speelman go play some indoor golf. They discovered that the closest facility was in Cleveland.
1899 Indoor Golf employs the latest in technology that enables golfers to “play” on more than two dozen virtual golf courses around the world, at five indoor stations, plus a private VIP room that’s available to rent.
When a golfer hits a ball, a TrackMan simulator records the speed and spin of the ball and projects its flight based on data compiled from 1 billion indoor and outdoor shots, Lindenbaum said.
“It takes in a bunch of different factors, including how well it’s hit,” he said. “It computes all that.”
Two of the most popular simulated courses, he said, include Muirfield Village in Columbus, designed by PGA Hall of Fame golfer Jack Nicklaus, and the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, where the game was invented.
Other popular course selections include the Mayfield Sand Ridge course in Chardon and Firestone in Akron.
Visitors may bring their own equipment or use the in-house Callaway clubs.
Lindenbaum said an advantage indoor golf offers is the ability for a single player to play a round in a short period of time, rather than the three to four hours it can take on a live course.
“The technology’s gotten really good in the last three or four years,” he said.
Lindenbaum and Speelman christened their company as a nod to Ohio’s deep connection to golf. 1899 is the year when Coburn Haskell, a dentist and avid golfer from Cleveland, and his friend, B.F. Goodrich President Bertram G. Work, received a patent for the world’s first “rubber-wound” golf ball, the basic elements of which are still in use today.
“Ohio consistently ranks in the top five for rounds of golf played,” Lindenbaum said. “That’s despite the weather and including places like California, Arizona and Florida.”
The year 1899 also marks the opening of Ottawa Park, the state’s first public golf course, located in Toledo.
1899 Indoor Golf recently added E6, a brand of software which adds 60 more virtual courses, bringing the total to more than 90.
The partners say business has been brisk. More than 3,000 people, including a number of golf instructors from several local outdoor courses, have visited 1899 Golf since it opened in November.
1899 Indoor Golf also offers lessons provided by golf pros on staff. Other local pros also may access the facility for their own lessons for a fee, Lindenbaum said.
The men also are proud of their bar, which offers cocktails, a large selection of bourbon and scotch and beer crafted in Ohio.
Speelman said that they made the deliberate choice to carry Ohio products.
“We’d like the bar business to be just as popular,” Lindenbaum said. “To that end, we’ve designed a lot of really nice hand-crafted cocktails.”
The VIP room is located speakeasy-style, behind a door designed to look like a bookcase. It features a simulator, TVs and seating for more than 20. In February, someone rented the space for a Super Bowl party.
The two said 1899 Indoor Golf sees a wide variety of customers, “from 5-year-olds to an 85- year-old.”
The company is sponsoring leagues and recently added “Top Golf,” a game which has been likened to playing darts—only with golf shots.
The partners said they took up the game themselves about 12 years ago.
“It’s a hard game,” Lindenbaum said. “It’s an endless journey to get better.”
“It’s a timeless sport you can play your whole life,” Speelman said.
To learn more, visit 1899golf.com.