It’s not uncommon for brothers to be competitive. But for Josh and Kyle Engelken, with just one year separating them in age, sibling rivalry was almost a non-issue – at least as it relates to their new business venture.
“We always wanted to go into business together,” said Josh. “We’re both passionate about golf. We fell in love with the concept and the technology.”
The concept? Interactive indoor golf.
The Engelken brothers co-own the X-Golf facility that opened in March at Westchester Commons. Josh, the general manager, relocated to Bon Air from North Carolina, joining Kyle, who manages operations and back office considerations while continuing to work for a financial technology company in Richmond.
The facility was open only a couple weeks and operating under social distancing protocols when it was obliged to close due to the COVID-19 quarantine. The Engelkens are planning another grand opening and special events for later in the year.
Midlothian’s X-Golf is a local franchise of a nationwide indoor golfing phenomenon that began in Michigan in 2015. With X-Golf, enthusiasts can comfortably enjoy the sport year-round and in any kind of weather. Midlothian’s X-Golf is the only location in Virginia – the next closest is in Philadelphia. A second location in Northern Virginia is expected to open later.
X-Golf offers six semi-private simulators that customers use to “hit” the ball “into” a screen that mimics a real golf course. Customers can select a 9- or 18-hole experience, as well as driving range mode and competition events (closest to the pin, longest drive, etc.). Customers also can choose to play one of 50 world-famous courses, such as Pebble Beach, Harbour Town and Bay Hill – or even just one particular hole.
In addition to the golfing, customers enjoy an array of amenities including full food and bar service (including local craft beers) within the 6,000-square-foot facility.
“There’s a trend toward a total dining and entertainment experience,” Kyle said. Because the simulators are semi-private, they can accommodate a variety of customers, he added.
“You can bring the family,” Kyle said. “The environment is adaptable to date nights and really lends itself to events, like corporate outings or leagues.”
State-of-the-art simulators differentiate X-Golf from similar facilities. At X-Golf in Midlothian, simulators come equipped with auto-teeing capabilities that gather the ball for the player and tee it up at the exact, individualized height for each user.
“Our simulators are among the most accurate,” said Josh. “Our combination of high-speed cameras, lasers and impact sensors measure ball and swing data to an unrivaled 98% accuracy.” As such, the facility can suit golfers of all abilities, from casual player to expert.
The brothers are partnering with golf pro T.W. Pulliam to offer lessons to help customers improve their games. Pulliam, who served as the director of golf at Dominion Golf Club in Glen Allen for nearly two decades, also is expected to work with local high school and college golf teams. Pulliam, affiliated as well with Tuckahoe Sports Inc., works with youth sports leagues and teaches baseball and softball in addition to golf.
For the future, the brothers are considering other partnerships with local golf clubs to share promotions and offer discounts, as well as the addition of other game options including shuffleboard and foosball.