I Play Golf 365: Teeing it up With Sam Foley

I Play Golf 365: Teeing it up With Sam FoleyIt’s hard to play a lot of golf living in the Hoosier state. If it’s not snowing it’s raining, windy, cold… you get the picture. So how cool would it be to have an indoor facility to work on your game when the weather outside doesn’t always cooperate? Well that place is here! I actually used to work over at Riverside Golf Academy, but this place is closer to where I live and closer to my office. When you first walk in Golf 365, you are simply impressed by the size. On the right side is a full gym, then you see a huge putting green, indoor hitting bays, four simulators, club fitting, a pro shop… the list just goes on. You can pretty work on every part of your game here. The name Golf 365 rings true. I took some time to sit down with Sam Foley, owner and operator of Golf 365. He’s a busy man as this operation just gets off the ground, but he was kind enough to share a few words with me. From his favorite player to his past life at the Brickyard Crossing, learn more about the man behind the curtain at Golf 365.

How long have you been playing golf?

Thirty-nine years. I figured out that I could hit a golf ball a lot further than a baseball, and it was a great way to spend the summers. Just to play a 9-hole course over and over again. It was the only sport I player where I didn’t have to wear shoes or a shirt. I remember doing that; just the grass on your feet and the sun on your back.

What clubs will I find in your golf bag?

I have Bridgestone Golf 60, 56 and a 52. Bridgestone irons – blades – as well. I am using velvet cord grips with Dynamic S300 shafts. I have a Bridgestone hybrid and a Exotic 4 wood with a Rapport shaft. Off the tee I have an old Titleist 905 driver with twenty grams of weight in head and forty in the grip. It’s like a telephone pole, with an extra stiff shaft.

I actually have a deal with Bridgestone. They gave us passes to inside the ropes, what they call the “official observers”, at the Bridgestone World Championship at Firestone Country Club.

You work with Chad Collins. What’s it like being a teaching profession on the PGA Tour?

About four times a year I go out on Tour. Obviously, its fun. It’s a pinnacle of my profession, and I enjoy that. Talk about the “cool factor”. I get to go into the clubhouse and the locker room. I hang out with the guys we all watch on TV. I have gotten to know some of them; it’s usually just business. I say it’s fun but it’s… you’re watching what you say and who you talk to and how you behave. It’s another world up there.

I got lucky. Chad was looking for a place to play, getting ready to go out on the Hooters Tour, and just played by the Brickyard. Our general manager, Kelly Bailey, who is now the GM at The Bridgewater Club, they are both from Cloverdale. Chad’s first memories of golf are from hitting balls in Indianapolis. He was sort of coming full circle a little bit.

The great thing about Chad is you don’t have to tell him anything. He and I have a running joke; one of the reasons we have been together for eleven years is I know when not to say things. It’s really what you don’t say that’s more important. Confidence is a fragile thing at that level. Chad is never really in short supply of it, which is what I love about him. My teaching style is simple. I don’t impose preferences. I play out the facts and offer choices. I let them make their own decisions on how they want to proceed.

Tell me more about working at the The Brickyard Crossing.

I was there for ten years. I had moved here from San Francisco, and had my sights set on the The Brickyard Crossing. They had a double-ended range, and it’s a high profile course. I felt like I could offer a lot for them, and word came down from Tony and he wanted to complete the operation with an academy. I had done a corporate event up there in the summer of 1999, and I was asked to consider coming on full time the following year. I actually left Heartland Crossing Golf Links for the Brickyard. I was there from when they very first opened. January of 2000 was my official start date.

It was an awesome golf course, and an awesome practice facility. It was up to me to make it whatever we could make it. At that time, I was using the Future Golf Swing Training System. It uses interactive multimedia measured biomechanics with multiple video angles. I was the first guy in Indiana to have that, one of ten in the country to have that technology. I was the first of ten, actually.

The conduit from Heartland Crossing to corporate event at the Brickyard to becoming the director of the golf instruction… was Mike Bell. I had given him lessons at Heartland Crossing. He was twelve-time club champion at the Country Club of Indianapolis. He was the Brickyard men’s club champion. He just wanted to learn how to hit the ball straight. He would draw his wedges twenty yards. Mike is probably responsible for helping me become established in Indy. His success and when he was inducted into the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame, he gave me some credit. He helped get me to the next level; a competitor at the national level.

I helped get the academy off the ground at the Brickyard. The Champion’s Tour was still there. It was neat helping those guys out when they needed it. Other than having to turn over my driving range to allow it to become a helicopter-landing pad, for the races, it was a pretty fun place to go to work. Going back to Heartland Crossing, I had the course record there. I shot 69 with a bogey on the last hole. I had the record until Nick Price came down for the grand opening and fired 67.

What made you decide to open a training facility like Golf 365?

I was at a crossroads after the Brickyard, or the Indianapolis Speedway Corporation, and they eliminated the business development role. In the last four years up there, that’s primarily what I was. I was still the director of the golf academy, but the majority of my time was spent on sales, marketing and public relations.

In 2006, I did increase rounds there 25%. I was able to effect some change there by getting involved in the Indianapolis business community. I invited them to come out and hold their events there. As things started to change out there, especially after Tony’s role changed, there was a total reorganization and eliminated that position. That was in December of 2009.

I was just at a crossroads to which direction to go. I interviewed with KemperSports. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stay on the teaching pro side of it. Not that I want talk too much about Par Masters, but when the parent company of Parmasters, Aegis Investments, when they decided to come down into this space, and make it a company store, with the Parmasters brand, they were saying it was going to be a showcase. It would be a showcase and model store for all future locations. They asked me to be involved on the ground floor.

It was sort of like a management company. I would still be very involved with the teaching side of things. I just love this space. I languished for eight months with them, as they were trying to open the business, and finally walked away. There was no progress being made. Shortly there after, when the landlord pulled the lease, it gave me the chance to come back in and create this space into what I thought this space could be. It was even better; I got to be in a position to chart the destiny of the business. I had to go through those eight months of purgatory limbo stage, but ended up getting to where I wanted to be. That’s the owner of an indoor golf entertainment training facility.

You guys are working with Julie Voris. How did you connect with her?

Julie was a friend of my partner Scott’s wife, Heather. She came in, and Heather had invited her in. We just met with her about cross promotion. Shakeology! (Laughs) She is a real classy, high-energy lady.

Your golf simulators have 50 different golf courses on them. How many of those courses have you actually played?

In reality? (Laughs) Pebble Beach, Spyglass, and Spanish Bay I have played. The TPC New Orleans and TPC Scottsdale… so that’s five. I have played those in real life. In fact, I recently played the TPC Scottsdale on the simulator. It was during the Phoenix Open. Or the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Tell me a little bit more about what a member can expect here at Golf 365.

Probably not unlike any membership. Its what you make of it. The sky the limit as far as training goes. We can take you to the highest level, including the Tours. Short of course management, we can simulate most of the types of shots you would see, minus the conditions. It’s always perfect conditions in here, 71 degrees and calm. A member, when they come in, they can expect courteous treatment from the staff. They can expect an offering of training including mental strength training from a PGA Tour sports psychologist. Swing mechanics training from myself and fitness training from a fitness coach. (The fitness coach will be named at a later date.)

Combined with the technology from the simulator and club fitting experts Michael Cash, we can tweak your clubs to get Tour van experience. Maybe Tour van’s not the right word for it. Maybe more like an indoor R&D experience that a manufacture might be able to offer. All of our simulators are also launch monitors. They capture club and ball data. Members can also expect a perfect putting green. They can expect to hit as many balls as they would ever want with the auto tee up bays. They can practice uneven lies. They can even get some tasty food and adult beverages. We can work on their fitness, strength, flexibility, and endurance.

It’s a lot under one roof. I think that we are the only entity that I know of where you can work on, get service with equipment, fitness, swing technique, and your mental game under one roof.

Let’s say I want to book a party at Golf 365. What’s the process for reserving the room?

We have our boardroom. It’s designed for offsite business meetings and member functions. We think it’s a great mix. It holds potential for team building. We are calling this a “golf party”… fun is actually underlying everything that we do.

That’s why our brand is golf entertainment and training. For the business golfer, once we understand the objective for the function, we can customize the program to let them get the full effect of Golf 365. Whether it’s playing alternate shot on the simulator or playing the putting course; everyone loves to putt. We have all had putt-putt dates. You can enjoy playing 9 or 18 holes on our putting course. We can have closest to the pin contest.

There are clinics available for the aspiring business golfer. That’s for the guy that doesn’t feel confident enough to play and take clients out. If the culture of the business of golf, we think we can do a golf job by providing instruction in a controlled environment and in one that is less threatening. When it comes to playing 18 holes with a client, doing that in a simulator affords them much more face time. Not only that, if every simulator was taken up by the outing, you are still in the same vicinity of the other person. Think of it as a golf party, a golf simulator outing. As opposed to two people getting in two carts, going their separate ways. It also takes less time.

You guys seem to have it all. Is there any area of my game I couldn’t work on here at Golf 365?

Sand. Although, when you push the ball down into the rough, it’s the same kind of contact, you are hitting the artificial grass behind the ball. It’s sort of like a sand shot. It’s not ultra realistic.

Who is your favorite player on the PGA Tour?

Chad is the guy I follow every weekend. He is on my PGATour.com live scoring, following every shot. Which is fun. I actually encourage more people to do that. You can follow several players at the same time. It’s like having a favorite… like your home team. It’s just like watching a basketball game. Your home team, you get emotional if they are doing well or bad. It’s the same way I am with Chad and the live scoring. I am trying to imagine what might have happened with a particular swing. From a technical standpoint, that causes him to hit, say, in the left rough.

You guys open at 9 in the morning. What time do you close?

We close at 9:00 PM. We are open for twelve hours a day.

I love the name. Tell me more about Caddysnax Café.

We wanted to appeal to a humor side of things. Caddyshack being, not only the most popular golf movie of all time, the most popular sports movie of all time, maybe one of the most popular movies of all time. We just thought it was a cute name.

Let’s say I’m not into golf. Can I still benefit from coming to Golf 365?

That’s a good question. I want to say yes… but it’s a value call on what someone wants from spending some time here… or anywhere.  They can see what they’re missing.

What’s the best golf course you have ever played?

I always say there are different styles of courses. The ocean side and the mountain course. Or the traditional or the quarry or the desert course. What’s the definition of “best”?

I would have to say… there is one that sticks out. There are two courses on the island of Lanai. One of them is a Nicklaus course, Manele. It’s the only two things on the island. There are two five-star resorts and that’s it. The other one is about 2,000 feet up in the mountains. It’s Koelhe. It’s a great Norman design. I have been there twice, and it’s just magic. (Laughs) There are turkeys running around, and weird sounds coming from the jungle. They have an 18-hole putting course that is just manicured to perfection. It’s just otherworldly.

You are into music. Who are some of your favorite bands?

Oh, let’s see… adult alternative is my genre of choice. I am sort of a Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Citizen Cope kind of guy. I get a little older, a little mellower. I just saw Pete Yorn at The Vogue Theatre. Some of my favorites are Dada, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Big Head Todd & The Monsters. One of my all time favorites are Better Than Ezra.

In your opinion, who is the best professional golfer in the world?

That’s not a question. It’s Tiger Woods. It’s not even close.

What’s with all the pictures and memorabilia hanging on the wall over there?

My partner Scott is into memorabilia, and I am into golf memorabilia. It’s mostly framed autographed photos. We have a Ben Hogan signed check… it’s an interesting artifact. I met a guy, helped him get involved with golf tournaments, to raise money. He would offer those same types of art and do a revenue share with the charity. I am doing the same thing here. Part of the proceeds goes to charity form the sale of these artifacts.

We are going to do a different charity every month. Plus, it looks great on the wall.

If you had to describe Golf 365 in one word, what would it be?

Cool. Scott and I both think in those kinds of terms. We want it to be a cool place for us to go, as well. If we think it’s cool, we think other people will think it’s cool. I know that words overused, but still.

I always let the bands and the DJs I interview get the last word.

Golf 365 is where you get your game on.