PGA golfer Jay Haas, his two sons and other investors have purchased the Eagle Zone driving range at 8000 Pelham Road, Greenville, and have plans to turn it into a golf training center unlike most others in the Southeast.
“I think we will be recognized on a national scale at some time in the future,” Haas said.
The investor group includes, among others, Haas’ older son, Jay Jr., who teaches at the Greenville Country Club; his younger son, Bill, who competes on the PGA Tour; and his brother-in-law, Dillard Pruitt, who played on the PGA Tour and is now a PGA Tour rules official. The group also includes John Gerring, who manages Eagle Zone and has more than 50 years’ experience as a head golf professional at a variety of noted country clubs, such as Holly Tree Country Club in Simpsonville, Atlanta Country Club, and Bloomfield Hills Country Club in Michigan.
Haas said plans call for using the group’s connections to bring in some of the country’s most experienced and notable golf coaches to conduct clinics along with himself and his sons. In addition, Jay Jr. will offer one-on-one instruction along with the facility’s six current instructors, including Jamie Michala.
“We want people to be able to come here and learn the game from some of the best teachers,” Haas said. “I foresee bringing in nationally-known instructors to do one- and two-day clinics. I don’t think many places in the area can claim anything like that. That’s something that will separate this facility from many others.”
In addition, plans call a short-game facility, short-game clinics, and instruction that includes electronic devices that can show spin rate, launch angle, club angle, distance, ball speed. He said he, Bill Haas, and Jay Haas Jr. use Trackman devices that register that data but they are specific to one golfer. He’d like to be able to offer that to all golfers who use the facility.
“We have great plans, dreams for what this facility can be going forward and, hopefully, we’ll realize them sooner than later,” Haas said.
Haas said he’s always been intrigued by driving ranges, which are the place most golfers develop their love for the game and first learn how to hit golf balls. Haas said he often took Jay Jr. and Bill to Eagle Zone, known then as Pelham Tees, when they were growing up.
“You can go and grab a bucket of balls and have no consequences at all, just hit, loosen up and try to learn something,” he said.
Haas said the facility would focus on providing proper instruction to junior players so they can develop and to established golfers who want to improve their game.
Haas and the investor group recently closed the sale of the 24-acre facility for an undisclosed sum. They are planning to rebrand the facility with a new name in the coming months.
Immediate plans include new mats, new balls, and enhanced lighting, as well as retaining the instructors, club fitting, club repair, and retail business. Renovations of the building could include displaying a variety of golf memorabilia that he and his sons have collected over the years, including Ryder Cup and President’s Cup gear.
Haas said he knows that TopGolf, which is building a 55,000-square-foot facility near the intersection of Pelham and Garlington roads, is coming to Greenville, but said he believes comparing the two are “apples and oranges.”
“TopGolf is more on the entertainment side where we have more of the instructor side,” he said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to work with the players who are introduced to golf by TopGolf.”
Haas said Eagle Zone has the bones of a great facility.
“There’s nothing but upside here,” he said.