West Bank Golf Club set to open soon in Cleveland’s Flats

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A trio of business owners are planning to open the West Bank Golf Club in Cleveland’s Flats this month.

Planned opening date for the simulators and bar at 2111 Center St. is Friday, April 29. Gabe Adams, Jay Graham and Jim Basar began making the idea a reality a year ago.

“We were talking last year around this time about playing golf indoors,” said Adams, who said the three frequented golf-simulator places in the area. Several simulator spots are within an hour of downtown Cleveland.

“Why isn’t there one downtown?” Adams said he remembered saying.

Adams is friends with Bobby George of Townhall. So the three owners – who knew each other from their days as students at Baldwin Wallace University – approached George, knowing he had some real estate in the area.

“We walked in here and said, ‘Yeah, this is it,'” Adams said.

They forged ahead, envisioning a vibrant multi-purpose space. Six months ago, they said, it was an empty industrial warehouse with yellow walls and ceilings. Now, the space – just less than 5,000 square feet – is close to opening.

California-based Full Swing Simulators is the company behind the technology and user experiences for the three interactive bays. Each screen is 16 feet wide. Golfers stand nine feet away, with high tops behind them for folks to watch, drink, relax and await their turn.

Target opening date for the West Bank Golf Club is this month.  Located in Cleveland's Flats, the club offers golf simulators with a range of games and courses and a full bar.  Here's what it's about.

West Bank Golf Club owners, from left: Gabe Adams, Jay Graham and Jim Basar.

Golfers won’t get bored with the same setting, either. More than 80 courses are available, as well as driving-range practice, par-3 contest and long-driving competition. About 20 variables show swing speed, ball speed and the dynamics of how the clubface hits the ball.

“It’s a very intricate experience to help your game,” Basar said.

Simulators, which were slated to arrive this week, offer other games as well – football, soccer, hockey, baseball and dodgeball.

Cost will be $ 45 per hour Monday through Thursday and before 3 pm Friday, then $ 55 after 3 pm Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday.

The space offers more than just the three bays. A conference room and party room are available. Companies can have casual gatherings, they said. Poker nights and fantasy-sports-draft gatherings are also possibilities. The space will have a pair of pool tables and televisions, plus Keno, touch tunes and – down the line – sports-betting kiosks. And simulator screens can be converted into projected screens for a big game or event.

Simulators work well for golfers of all levels, Adams said. Beginners don’t have to worry about losing a ball or slowing play.

The owners said the space – with a capacity of just less than 100 people – will open at 8 am, so they anticipate possibly older, more serious golfers hitting a few in the morning before a more casual crowd comes in later to have a beer, golf and unwind.

“It’s never going to be a nightclub,” Graham said, and instead will offer more of a “happy-hour feel.”

Target opening date for the West Bank Golf Club is this month.  Located in Cleveland's Flats, the club offers golf simulators with a range of games and courses and a full bar.  Here's what it's about.

The space is almost complete. The simulator bays are on the left, and the bar will be in the back on the right.

The golf club has a few things going for it, starting with its location.

The business is in the Tenk Machine & Tool Co., which was originally Eclipse Iron Works. That business, dating to the 18th century, made architectural iron objects like sidewalk lights, railings and more – though it would have been serendipitous if it created golf clubs. The building later would serve as the longtime home of Bruce-MacBeth Engine Co. and then Tenk, which closed years ago.

The owners describe the golf club as “the course meets the clubhouse.”

“There isn’t anywhere that’s more of a clubhouse feel, to actually hang out and not just golf. You can come in, have a drink, watch a game in a big enough space where you’re not affecting the golf, ”Graham said.

“A lot of the (other simulator) places that, at least in our opinion were places that were great, but you wouldn’t go hang out there,” Basar said. “You golf and you leave. And we wanted our place to be somewhere you’d hang out even if you weren’t golfing. ”

The location is key. Non-metered street parking and an adjacent lot for the building are available – important because no one wants to lug clubs for several blocks or through slush in the winter.

Speaking with area businesses, Adams said, “We were talking about how the West Bank is sort of getting to become what I think they wanted the East Bank to be, where a little bit older crowd would hang out, it was a thing you could get to easily, a lot of fun all in one area. You know, be able to golf and go see a show at Jacobs (Pavilion) or Music Box Supper Club and volleyball down the street and then the paddle (tennis facility.) ”Adams is referring to the Cleveland Platform Tennis Foundation’s courts less than half a mile away.

The golf club is part of what appears to be an organic, active-lifestyle development taking root in the area, what Basar calls “leisure-sport activities.” Volleyball leagues, paddle tennis and other options are available. Pins Mechanical Co. – which offers foosball, pinball, duckpin bowling and bocce – is nearby in Ohio City. And The Foundry fosters the rowing community.

Target opening date for the West Bank Golf Club is this month.  Located in Cleveland's Flats, the club offers golf simulators with a range of games and courses and a full bar.  Here's what it's about.

The West Bank Golf Club is on Center Street in Cleveland.

Nearby new apartment buildings also might fuel a potential customer base, they said.

Basar added the popularity of golf is exploding as a result of the pandemic.

National Golf Foundation research supports that claim. In the past couple of years, the sport has seen increased participation attributed to the pandemic coronavirus – golf being generally considered safer than other activities with its natural social distancing. More women and minorities are also golfing, according to the organization.

For those not golfing or who want to have a drink, a full bar will be available. The owners kept the industrial look of the place, with the building’s old, heavy fire doors serving as the bar’s knee wall. Beer will be all cans, with wine, drinks, spiked ice teas and hard seltzers available.

Golf coolers holding several beers will be offered instead of buckets of beers, and the menu of offerings will be printed on a scorecard. They might even do a play on a shotgun start – a beer and a special shot.

“It’s golf ‘coursey’ with a twist,” Graham said.

The space doesn’t have a kitchen, though the owners plan to partner with Mulberry’s a couple of blocks away as well as other places. Townhall will also be able to cater “on a moment’s notice,” Adams said.

There’s another plus to the space, the owners said: The ceiling. It’s about 40 feet up. Many simulator places have ceilings about 12 feet.

“I think that’s the biggest thing that drew us to the place – the ceilings,” Graham said. “When you’re swinging a club no matter how often you do it, it’s still in the back of your mind you’re going to hit something. With this, you’re not going to feel that at all. ”

Related coverage

Pins Mechanical Co. and 16-Bit Bar and Arcade set to open soon in Ohio City (photos)

The Foundry at 5 years: A look at Cleveland’s unique rowing center (photos, video)

I am on cleveland.com‘s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 am Thursday morning. Twitter: @ mbona30.

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