The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a development plan that would allow a two-story, 24-bay driving range at Meadowbrook Golf Course at a regular meeting on Tuesday.
The course has closed since July 2021 because of continual flooding, and owner Christopher Marcum said the entire course lacks feasibility without an additional revenue stream—like the funds and extra time an upgraded driving range will provide.
“Golf as we know it has changed,” Marcum said. “The heydays of the 1990s are gone.”
Marcum brought the idea before the Planning Commission in June, and Tuesday’s blueprint changed little. The 15,000-square-foot facility will house 24 bays with a maximum of eight people per bay.
As an addition to the golf course, the new driving facility, modeled as a scaled-down TopGolf, can’t operate on its own. The course must also be running.
The golf course intertwines with the Meadowbrook at Gainesville subdivision, and neighbors worried at the previous meeting about parking, noise, and lighting of the new facility. The subdivision also shares a parking lot with the golf course at its clubhouse, allowing a back way into the neighborhood.
Since that meeting, Marcum entered an understanding with the Homeowner Association (HOA) to install an additional gate, a new privacy fence and valet parking to mitigate noise and safety.
The residents also wanted to keep a copse of trees that provides a visual and audible buffer between the houses and the proposed driving range facility. Marcum said the trees hamper maintenance and could interfere with adding the netting for the driving range, but the BOCC kept the trees as part of the staff’s recommendation.
The furthest target will be 185 feet from the bays, and modified golf balls will restrict distance by more than 25%, according to Marcum. He said illuminated targets will be pointed toward the facility to reduce lights.
The facility will use glow-in-the-dark golf balls with tracer technology to allow players to see on televisions where their hits land.
Staff added requirements for the golf course to account for flooding. If 12 or more holes close for 90 days straight or more than 180 days in a year, the golf course will be considered abandoned, forcing the driving range to shut down.
Commissioner Anna Prizzia moved the staff’s recommendation while also requiring another buffer fence, only one food truck bay and water mitigation efforts.
Marcum also agreed with the BOCC to operate the driving range facility six days a week instead of seven—although the golf course will remain weeklong. In exchange, the BOCC allowed an increase from 18 bays to 24. The planning commission in June voted to allow a maximum of 26.
Marcum will need to bring the golf course up to par before launching the new driving range, but Meadowbrook Golf Course could open again soon with additional options.
The 18-hole course could itself change in the future. Marcum laid out plans to convert it into a 12-hole course. The redesign would help offset the flooding issue, and he hopes it would mitigate the flooding that runs into the course from other properties.
The redesign could cost around $150,000, according to Marcum, and the new driving range would carry a price tag of more than $2 million.