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BOB WEST ON GOLF — 5 Under Golf receives national validation

Most anyone who has spent time at 5 Under Golf Center knows that the old Games People Play on College Street in Beaumont has been turned into a pretty special place by Austin Williams’ vision and the huge capital investment made by his partners.

The Golf Range Association of America, which has 12,000 members, provided notable validation for Williams recently with two significant awards. 5 Under was recognized as a GRAA top 50 range in the Stand Alone category (not tied into a golf course) and for Best Renovation.

In addition to Sterling crystal plaques, Williams and 5 Under receive a place at the Jan. 28 GRAA networking event during the virtual PGA Golf Show. The latter provides Williams an opportunity to exchange ideas with other GRAA award winners and with industry professionals.

As you would expect, the eight-time Beaumont City Champion is elated over the recognition achieved in 5 Under’s COVID-limited first year of operation.

“We are honored to be among a stellar list of top golf ranges in the United States,” he said. “We wanted to be thought of as one of the top facilities in the country and these awards say we are. We are so flattered they selected us. This is a major first step in the direction we want to be headed.

“We are constantly seeking to raise the bar in all aspects of the services and amenities we offer to our customers here in Southeast Texas. I am extremely pleased for our staff and all the hard work they put in to get us to this point. They are totally focused on creating a great customer experience.”

5 Under was the first facility in the United States to offer TopTracer Range and Top Golf Swing Suite technology joined in one location. It offers 20 outdoor covered hitting bays powered by TopTracer Range technology and indoor swing suites with the option to virtually play over 140 courses, and numerous other games.

In addition, 5 Under sells top of the line golf equipment and golf attire, and features a dining facility with a sports-bar atmosphere.

Despite its grand opening being delayed, a brief shutdown in May and COVID limitations, Williams is pleased with year one. The awards were icing on the cake.

“Business has been good and will continue to grow,” he said. “It is difficult to measure how good it’s been because we don’t have anything to compare it to. But overall, considering everything that’s happened, you have to say it was successful.

“However, there is plenty of room for growth. I don’t think we are close to our peak.”

CHIP SHOTS: Andrew Landry’s first start in 2021 was moderately successful as he shot five-under-par 287 to tie for 38th in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. It was the exact same total Landry carded over the Plantation Course in Kapalua in his only other appearance in the TOC in 2018. He pocketed $39,000.

Thanks to TOC runner-rup Joaquin Nieman, Landry did get some incidental publicity. Nieman made 31 birdies which is tied for third in a 72-hole PGA Tour event. The record is 32. Landry is one of seven players tied with Nieman’s 31 birdies. He did that last January in winning the American Express Championship.

Landry is playing this week’s Sony Open in Honolulu, then he’s off to Palm Springs to meet his new putting coach and try to defend his American Express title.

Braden Bailey got some good news last week with the Mackenzie Tour announcing it would be conducting a Qualifying School in hopes COVID limitations would be lifted to the point PGA Tour Canada will be able to reopen this summer.

There are seven qualifying sites. Bailey’s first choice is the Wigwam March 29-April 2 in Litchfield Park, Arizona. He has experience on that course, having played the Patriot Invitational there as a collegiate golfer at Baylor. He’d been signed up to play the Wigman last year when PGA Tour Canada pulled the plug on its season.

Wet conditions again limited play at Babe Zaharias to the 200-yard, par 4 game. In Saturday’s Super Senior 2 ball, the team of James Vercher, Troy Touchet, Dan Harrington, Art Turner and Buddy Hicks scored a sweep, winning the front with minus 10 and the back at minus 13.

In the Friday 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Ted Freeman, Bobby Wactor, Larry Johnson, Dwayne Benoit and Dan Flood won the front with minus 7. That was also the winning score on the back for Vercher, Tony Trevino, Turner and Larry Foster.

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was played in an all-points-count format. Placing first with 28 points was the foursome of Earl Richard, John House, Ron Mistrot and Flood. Second with 27 points was the team of Doug LeBlanc, Glen Judice, Scott Bryant and Jerry Watson.

Closest to the pin winners were Flood (No. 2, 6 feet, 6 inches), James Trahan (No. 7, 2-9), Don MacNeil (No. 12, 8-8) and Ron LaSalle (No. 15, 1.0).Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net