Great Shots promises great entertainment – in golf and more

The Sanford Sports Complex facility will open in the fall for year-round play

Sanford Health's Great Shots facility

Golf is central to the latest new venue being built at the Sanford Sports Complex. But Great Shots is about so much more than golf.

The 54,000-square-foot, three-story facility will be a year-round hub of fun, entertainment, food and drinks. It’s set to open in late 2019 in northwest Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is expected to draw people from across the region.

Why? Because it’ll offer something for everyone.

“We researched and visited several golf-entertainment facilities across the country,” said Kevin Lampe, president of Sanford Sports. “We believe we’re bringing together the best aspects of all of them. This will be a major attraction for golfers and nongolfers. Bottom line: It’ll be a fun and lively place to be.”

Great Shots features

Great Shots will have two restaurant and bar spaces with unique food and drink options plus no shortage of television screens.

Several different conference rooms can host parties and meetings, equipped with video technology for entertainment or productivity. You can take your work gathering to the next level by getting outside the boardroom.

A first-floor kids’ room will be outfitted with activities and apparatuses perfect for ages 4-10, including a small climbing wall. It’s comparable to a playground area at a mall in that kids will want to stop and play every time they see it. Sanford Fit, an initiative geared toward teaching kids how to be active and healthy, is helping to shape the design.

Even the game play in the golf bays can be geared toward things other than golf. The BigShots software has a game mode that offers several options to turn the experience into an interactive video game. For example, the outfield space may appear on the screen as if it’s populated by blow-up animals. If your ball hits one of those animals, it’ll explode, and you’ll get a certain number of points.

Golfing for ‘nongolfers’

Golf and entertainment venues like Great Shots are gaining popularity nationally, and most of that is driven by “nongolfers.” They may have otherwise been intimidated by the game. This makes it more accessible, less time-consuming and less expensive.

It’s not unlike bowling — not many people consider themselves to be “bowlers,” although many go bowling several times a year. But while most cities have bowling alleys, Sioux Falls will be one of the first nonmajor metro areas in the nation to have a space like Great Shots. Think family time or fun with friends.

“My wife and I have three young kids, including twins, so I don’t have time to play golf on a regular basis,” said Nick Anson, a Sioux Falls videographer. “But golf-entertainment venues are perfect; they’re less time-consuming and less expensive than a traditional round. Great Shots is going to be a blast.”

About the bays

And, of course, the diehard golfers will love it, too. There will be 60 bays — individual hitting areas that can accommodate a single golfer or a group.

The year-round facility will have individually controlled radiant heaters above each bay to help keep people warm. This is not a golf simulator — you hit into an open, artificial turf field. So, yes, there may be some days when the bays close for weather.

Great Shots will use real golf clubs — you can bring your own or use what’s provided — and real golf balls. (Some facilities use modified golf clubs and golf balls to restrict flight.) That’s because the technology is radar-based. There’s a radar on each bay, specifically calibrated for that location, to read the ball from take-off to touch-down.

Golf academy and Austad’s

For the most serious of golfers, there’s a dedicated wing on the first floor. That’ll be home to the Sanford POWER Golf Academy — a uniquely comprehensive program for golfers of all ages and abilities. It ties together skill development, strength and conditioning, movement analysis, injury prevention and sports science. Players can use one or all of the services — the program is individualized.

The academy area will also have a putting green and additional golf-based technology, including high-end flight monitors by Trackman and Foresight. Its dedicated bays will have roll-down garage doors with net and simulator add-ons.

Next to the academy space is a pro tour fitting space run by Austad’s Golf. Based in Sioux Falls, Austad’s has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the 100 best club-fitting companies in the country.

This unique combination is one of the reasons Great Shots has already been named as the host of the World Scientific Congress of Golf in 2021.

“On behalf of the board of Golf Science, we are thrilled to be working with Sanford Health on the 2021 WSCG,” said Kerrie Evans, chair of the board. “The conference, steeped in tradition, is internationally recognized as a collaborative forum that brings together researchers, educators, coaches and those who just love the game to share and disseminate the latest research, with a particular focus on translating the science into practice.”

Progress

Just as Great Shots is diverse in options, it’ll be diverse in accessibility. Specific options and prices are still under development, but there will be membership options for individuals and corporations. Rates for drop-in options will vary by the time and day. Members of the Sanford Wellness Center and Great LIFE will receive 50 percent off bay rentals.

Steel is going up now at Great Shots, located on the corner of Benson Road and Westport Avenue at the Sanford Sports Complex, which attracted 1.4 million visitors in 2018. The project will be complete in late fall – not too long after the grand opening of a Fleet Farm superstore across the street.

This next-level entertainment brings a totally new entertainment and activity option into the region, as well as turning golf into a year-round venture.

“Great Shots is going to be a game-changer,” Lampe said. “It’ll serve Sioux Falls and the greater region for years to come.”

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