When I was a kid, my dad took me to a golf range to see if I had any potential. He was thinking ahead — girls have a good chance at a college scholarship when it comes to golf. Ultimately, I complained that my hands hurt, we left, and I can only assume the potential was little to zero. I’m not sure the world is missing the greatest female golfer of our generation, but I have thought that I, personally, might be missing out on the sport. After all, I live in Dallas, where leisurely golfing reigns supreme — I love leisure and I really enjoy a golf cart — but it’s not the easiest sport to pick up. It’s expensive for one, and the idea of holding up anyone’s game while I try to wedge my way out of a sand trap is stress-inducing. In fact, the whole idea of picking up golf is intimidating.
It’s a fact I heard reiterated often last year, when golf became one of the safest sports you could play. It was also something that spoke to Jonathan Buchanan, a teaching pro at Dallas Country Club who was recently named one of the Best Young Teachers in America by Golf Digest. Inspired by members-only concepts in New York where lush courses are spare, Buchanan decided to open up his own golf club — one that was open to the public, and equally alluring for beginners and pros alike.
“I’m 36 and not everyone my age wants to join a country club. We have an old-school logo and we sell merchandise, so people can feel proud to be a part of — I hate the word club — but a place they can play and practice,” Buchanan tells me from City Golf Club’s original outpost in the Crescent building, one of the few urban places to play in Dallas without a membership. “It’s just nice to be able to give people another option in the city.”
Situated in a suite within the tony Uptown building, City Golf Club is small but intimate. There’s a fridge full of cold beer in the lounge area and a sophisticated logo emblazoned on the wall, but the main focus is the TrackMan, a state-of-the-art golf simulation machine that allows players to track their performance and improve their game. It’s seriously high-tech stuff (you’ll get a swing analysis, benchmarking tools, tons of stats, and even an instant playback), but it’s also genuinely fun. The TrackMan includes drone-captured footage of more than 25 world-famous courses, including Pebble Beach, and feels a bit like playing a video game.
But the real beauty of City Golf Club is the seemingly endless variety of ways users can benefit from technology that would typically only be available to PGA Tour players. In one day, a pro golfer could drop in to perfect his swing, a bachelor party could rent the spot for a few beers and a friendly game, or a total novice could reserve a time to enjoy the Virtual Lesson Generator in a safe space.
“People don’t get overwhelmed by the technology, and also, everyone is treated the same,” Buchanan says. And though the sought-after teacher is available for lessons at the club, he often finds people simply want to be left alone to play and learn.
City Golf Club is available for rentals (starting at $60 an hour) by non-members. Monthly memberships are available starting at $99, and the highest level of access (the Hogan Full Membership, which includes free guests and 24/7 access) is priced at $4,000 a year. (Visit citygolfclub.co for more information.) City Golf Club is currently open in Uptown, but Buchanan is looking at plans to expand.