Driving forward

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Backwoods Golf, a company spearheaded by owners with deep area roots, officially broke ground and is hoping to open in Republic in the spring of 2020. Contributed photo

Area locals break ground on golfing dream

A dream four years in the making is now one huge step closer to reality for two business owners with local ties.

Austin Cloud, a 2008 Monett High School graduate, and Charlie Locher, co-founder of Architectural Systems Inc. in Monett, have broken ground on a 19-acre facility in Republic called Backwoods Golf.

“I have been in the golf industry for a long time,” Cloud said. “About two years ago, I brought an idea to Charlie and we have been able to take our time, work slowly and found some good land. Everything just kind of fit into place.”

The duo’s vision for southwest Missouri is to provide golfers a facility where they can work on their game 12 months a year.

Backwoods Golf will be a state-of-the-art driving range that utilizes the same technology that can be found at Top Golf ranges.

Backwoods has purchased the Toptracer program.

The technology provides instant shot replays and statistical feedback on interactive game screens in your hitting bay, which allows players to make swing adjustments and immediately see the impact on their golf shot.

Unique software tracks the flight of a golf ball in a camera feed, and adds graphics to make this visible on screen.

Several of the world’s largest broadcasting companies expressed interest and Toptracer has been featured in TV coverage from the biggest golf tournaments in the world, such as the Open Championship and the Ryder Cup.

“The advantage of this technology over a trainer or coach is you can instantly on a replay see the problem,” Cloud said. “And then what the correct way does to fix it.”

Cloud has a rich tradition in golf serving as an assistant professional in the Hamptons for three years. He also served as a caddy and outdoor service manager at Balleyneal in Colorado. Cloud also serves as a Junior Met PGA instructor.

Locher, who stepped back from his day-to-day duties at ASI two years ago and currently lives in Shell Knob, was looking for a project he could involve himself in that could occupy his newly acquired free time.

“I wanted to do something else.” he said. “I just didn’t want to sit in a rocking chair and watch the rest of my life slip by. When Austin brought this idea to me and knowing what I know about the explosion of Top Golf, which has led to this type of venue for the last 8 or 10 years, and that the Springfield area has such a huge concentration of courses, this seemed to be a good business venture to cater to all those involved in golf in the area.”

Backwoods Golf will feature climate-controlled bays that will allow for utilization 12 months a year.

The plan is to start with a single storied structure, but the size of the facility will allow for expansion as needed.

“We have plenty of room to grow,” Locher said. “We were fortunate to find property that was suitable on Republic Road near the new Republic High School. We believe that location is ideal.”

The goal is to have the facility open to the public in the spring of 2020.

Both owners feel that Backwoods Golf can go a long way to helping golfers take their games to the next level.

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