STURTEVANT – Temperatures were in the 30s and a teeth-chattering wind blew out of the north Tuesday – lousy conditions to play golf but ideal for the grand opening of a four-season practice range.
So it was that owner Ramiro Romo, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave and other dignitaries cut the ribbon at Range Time, a state-of-the-art practice facility at the Ives Grove Golf Course.
With 30 heated hitting stations facing south, two indoor simulators and a full-service bar, Range Time should be a popular stop for golfers who live in southern Milwaukee County, Racine and Kenosha.
Romo, a two-time WSGA Senior Amateur champion and the father of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, signed a 30-year lease with Racine County, which owns Ives Grove (and Browns Lake Golf Course in Burlington, where Romo lives).
Pete Eitel, the golf professional at both courses, will manage Range Time for Romo.
“The quality of the facility and the location, being right off the interstate, we feel are winning points,” Eitel said. “We like that the range faces south and we’re blocking those northerly and westerly winds. The inside is beautiful. We’ve got the full bar, light bar food and simulators. We’ve got it all in one location, and it’s easy access.”
Range Time’s hitting stations are enclosed on three sides; radiant heaters overhead keep golfers comfortable in temperatures as low as 20 degrees. Even the benches behind the stations are heated from above, so golfers waiting their turn to practice stay warm.
“The fact that we’re blocking those northerly winds, we really think you’re going to be able to be out here at a little colder temperature,” Eitel said. ”I’ve hit when it’s 20 degrees and I’m comfortable. It all depends on the wind, but I feel our facility offers the best option.
“We’re hoping people bring family and friends to hang out. On the better days we’ll be running bar service out there and offering to bring a pizza or a beverage out to them.”
The two simulators are equipped with TrackMan launch monitors, widely considered to be the industry leader. TrackMan is a radar system that uses Doppler technology to track and record 3D characteristics of a ball in motion. Golfers get instantaneous feedback on clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, carry distance and total distance with every club.
Video allows golfers to view their swings in addition to seeing their ball flight numbers. That’s great for practice and lessons, but if users just want to have fun, the simulators are loaded with 45 golf courses.
“We talked about what we were going to do for simulators and Ramiro insisted that we’re going to have the best,” Eitel said. “And that’s what he did, he installed the best. TrackMan is easy to use. You can do so many different things with it. It’s great for teaching, amazing for club-fitting but also the simulator part for playing is a blast.”
Romo said he wanted to give golfers an affordable practice option. A small bucket of 30 balls costs $4, a medium bucket (60 balls) costs $8 and a large (100) costs $12. The simulators cost between $32 and $40 per hour, depending on time and day.
Range Time is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will have extended hours when simulators are booked past 7 p.m. Starting in January, the hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Golfers also will be able to use TrackMan launch monitors on two of the outdoor hitting stations. The cost to rent the unit is $35 per hour, which includes a medium bucket of balls.
“I think we are in the right price range for the golfer that wants to get better at golf,” Romo said. “We have the technology, and our price range is such that it’s affordable for anybody to come out here.”
In addition to the hitting stations, one of the state’s largest bent grass practice tees will open next spring. Eitel said he didn’t know the exact size of the tee, but it’s at least 100 yards long and 30 yards deep.
“We understand that in the summer months, people want to hit off grass and we want to give them that option,” Eitel said. “The mats are great from October through May, but we also know that people want to use grass. And the tee is gorgeous. It’s 100 percent bent grass.
“It’s going to be a great area to teach, a great area for clinics as well as just open to the public coming in hitting balls.”
Delagrave said Range Time was a win-win for Racine County and area golfers.
“This is something that I think our taxpayers can all be proud of,” he said. “Most importantly, the relationships that we have – there’s nobody else that the county would rather be in partnership with than Mr. and Mrs. Romo. They could have picked anywhere and they picked us, and we don’t take that for granted.”