November 28, 2023

Talking Hunters Run Range Renovations with Ben Bauer, PGA

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

Avid Golf Range Magazine readers will know Ben Bauer from his days as PGA of America Director of Golf at The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Florida. Bauer has seen range renovations before, even earning a 2021 GRAA Top Range Renovation award. Ibis also added Toptracer technology at that time, which always serves as a game-changer for a club’s members.

Bauer is now the PGA of America Director of Golf at Hunters Run Country Club in Boynton Beach, Florida, and yes, they have a very special range renovation going on.

Hunters Run Country Club has 950 golf members plus spouses who enjoy three stellar 18-hole championship layouts. As a result, Bauer says an expansion of the range was necessary to support their 110,000 annual rounds of golf and was put in motion with a member vote soon after he came on board just over a year ago.

With only 26 hitting stations in the previous space, the new double-sided driving range has 30 hitting stations on one end and 35 on the other, both built with real grass tees and a TurfHound synthetic turf strip.

“Our goal on the south end will be to use the mats a little more often because we’re going to put in a permanent shade structure to cover 17 hitting stations that will have Toptracer Range monitors,” Bauer says. “We’re also adding three suites that will have Toptracer Range monitors for members to enjoy.”

In addition to the 20 monitored Toptracer Range hitting areas, there will be 10 other hitting stations that will be supported by the Toptracer Range Mobile application. To ensure there are pristine grass hitting areas at all times, Bauer foresees a rotation schedule that will allow members to hit off grass at one end and mats on the other on any given day.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Bauer says they’re implementing robotic ball pickers and mowers.

“At my previous facility, we were the first course in the state of Florida to utilize this technology,” Bauer explains. “So, now we’re bringing them to Hunters Run.”

He explains that the new models will incorporate linear patterns to their motion, rather than the more random order that previous models would employ to eventually cover the entire body of the range.

“They go up and down the range, like a range picker would, but we don’t have to staff them,” Bauer says.

He adds that Hunters Run will be the first facility in the United States to have an automated ball washing system that coincides with their automated range picker.

“The robots will go to a specified location and dispense the Hunters Run-logoed Callaway practice balls into a bin. They’ll then get consumed into the automated ball washer,” Bauer explains. “All my team has to do is retrieve the clean golf balls from the washer and replenish the range as needed.”

The range will also have FLAGD Golf technology that provides accurate yardages to the various course-like targets on the range. They have real-grass target greens surrounded by synthetic bunkers so members can hone their skills, work on their ball flight and get instant results.

The new range opened just a week or two ago and will be highlighted with a huge grand opening celebration in collaboration with Callaway and Toptracer Range in early December. The event will be further highlighted with a visit by World Golf Hall of Fame Member, Annika Sorenstam.

“We’re excited about the new space and will enjoy a very special opening next week. We hope to engage this membership and get them excited about being out there, using the range and working on their game,” Bauer concluded.

Ben Bauer knows from past experience that these enhancements will serve as a vital selling point for new members and an effective tool to increase member retention. With such a commitment being demonstrated by the facility, members know they are valued, and the experiences they create at Hunters Run are paramount in the minds of the Board and staff who work hard to make a difference every day.