Getting into the swing of things: Five Iron Golf brings unique blend of serious play, fun

Northeast Ohio golf fans are a hearty group—thinking about getting in that next round of golf at one of the many local courses or traveling to Pebble Beach or Augusta National Golf Club on a golf vacation.

For Canton native Logan Neisel, the opening to the new Five Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand Apartments, 1101 Euclid Ave., last Wednesday, July 26, was reason enough to rent an apartment in the building as he was relocates to Cleveland as manager of corporate analytics at nearby Everstream Solutions.

Although Neisel found other places with lower rent, he ultimately chose the Euclid Grand Apartments because of the “really good experience” he had at the Pittsburgh Five Iron Golf location at a friend’s bachelor party.

“Some people pick the building because there’s a gym there, because there’s a restaurant that’s down in that area, and Five Iron was the reason that I ended up picking this place over some of the other ones,” says Neisel. “It’s just one of those things where if I can wake up at 6 a.m. and go hit a couple of golf balls before I even have to put on shoes for the day—how can say no to that?”

Five Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand ApartmentsFive Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand ApartmentsCleveland is Five Iron’s 20th simulated golf location. Founded in 2017 by Mike Doyle, Nora Dunnan, and Jared Solomon in New York City’s Flatiron District Flat Iron Golf has the mission to create an inclusive place for professional and recreational golfers to practice their golf games and have fun.

“We were founded as a golf company [by] a golf pro and one of his students,” explains Brendan Heckler, Five Iron Golf’s Midwest regional operations manager.  “Being built upon that ‘getting better at golf mindset,’ and certainly the entertainment aspect, the food and beverage side of things really came to complement our core business of golf.”

The company has quickly spread across the country—opening locations as far west as Seattle and Las Vegas. Cleveland’s 16,700-square-foot space is the latest Five Iron Golf club in the Midwest, following the May opening of a Cincinnati location.

“As we expand into the Midwest, the golf communities are just abundant from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, to Detroit, to even Cleveland,” says Heckler. “We are a scaling company, so [Cleveland] was kind of a no-brainer for us.”

The Cleveland facility features 15 custom-built golf simulators fitted with high-speed cameras to catch the player’s golf swings. Through a partnership with TrackMan Golf, Five Iron Golf offers seasoned players the chance to play rounds at more than 200 well-known courses from around the world, while beginner-level golfers and those just looking for a fun night out can use the simulators for games like long drive competitions, putt-putt, and bullseye.

Early risers during the week can begin their play on any course from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews as soon as 6 a.m. during the week. Up to six people can play on one simulator during off-peak times for $55 an hour.

Five Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand ApartmentsFive Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand Apartments“We really try to appeal to any type of golfer from all walks of life,” Heckler says. “We really try to make golf inclusive and affordable for everyone to enjoy the game. At $55 an hour, we’re coming in just under $10 a person to learn how to [play] and enjoy the game of golf.

While playing a round, golfers can order drinks from one of two full on-site bars, as well as enjoy a full-service restaurant featuring appetizers, sandwiches, pizza, and small bites.

There are also shuffleboard, ping pong, and foosball tables; darts; and arcade games for those looking for a more complete (and less golf-heavy) gaming experience.

Five Iron Golf offers an optional membership program, which is $250 per month and can be canceled at any time. The Cleveland location is currently offering a Founding Member three-month membership to the first 375 members for $375.

“The membership is a unique part of our business model,” says Heckler. “We often get asked, ‘Are you members-only?’ because we do have a membership program. But if we have a simulator available, anyone is free to walk right in our doors and book a simulator.”

Additionally, the Cleveland location features a PGA Tour Superstore STUDIO and pro shop, where certified club fitters will help match customers with the right equipment.

Five Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand ApartmentsFive Iron Golf on the first floor of the Euclid Grand Apartments“In every location, there’s typically at least one, if not multiple, teaching pros to provide a variety of price points and experience levels,” Heckler says. “We’ve got leagues as well. If you’re looking to sharpen your competitive skills and have a little bit more pressure, we can cater to that as well. Growth of the game is something that is just in our DNA.”

Transplant Neisel came across Five Iron Golf after researching golfing options in his new hometown. He and his friends found it to be “a nice place” where people could have “a good time,” regardless of their skill levels.

“I’m a middle-of-the-road or average golfer,” says Neisel. “I’m not somebody that goes into a league every single week, but I’ve got a big group of buddies, and we all get together at least once a week to go golf. If I’m feeling really good that day, I’ll go and try the simulators, and actually go to Augusta or one of the difficult places, but you can only do that for so long.”

Neisel says that Five Iron is also a good place to go to unwind and practice his game on his own.

“Golf is kind of frustrating as a sport,” he says. “It’s kind of nice whenever you are just having a day that you just want to go and smack the ball hard, you can just go and do long drive. It’s a nice blend of both, depending on how much I feel like challenging myself that day.”

Although Five Iron Golf offers the country club feel with bag storage, access to club fittings, competitive tournaments, private lessons and locker rooms with shower and towel service, Neisel says he feels there is less pressure on golfers with his experience level.

Also, Five Iron allows Neisel to play in a climate-controlled setting year-round, whereas playing outdoors in late fall and throughout the winter is often difficult, if not impossible.

“If you’ve got a membership to a country club, it’s kind of assumed that anybody you take there already has to be good at golf, or else, they feel like they’re going to embarrass themselves,” says Neisel. “Rain or shine, I could bring some friends that have never picked up a golf club, and I know they’re going to have a good time because one, they’ve got clubs down there for them to try out, and two, we don’t have to go lose a bunch of balls on a real golf course.”

Now that Five Iron Golf is officially open in Cleveland, Neisel says he plans to purchase a membership—­especially with winter coming.

“I can actually spend all winter looking at my stats with TrackMan and learn about how to improve my game,” he explains. “I can have all that time through the winter to basically get better and understand what I’m doing. Whenever it finally gets warm around here, we can go out [on an actual course].”

Neisel says he plans to put that to membership to good use—living that well-known adage that “a bad day of golf is better than a good day of work.”

“I kind of joke, because I work downtown here,” he says, “‘well, if I get a membership, and I have a bad meeting, I’m just going to come over and smack golf balls as hard as I can until I feel better about it.’”

Matt Florjancic is a Cleveland-based reporter with nearly 20 years of experience in broadcast journalism.

For six years, Florjancic served as a Digital Sports Producer for WKYC TV3 in Cleveland, where he covered a variety of sporting events, including the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Championship, the Lake Erie Monsters’ Calder Cup victory, Stipe Miocic challenging for, winning and successfully defending the UFC heavyweight title, and Ohio State’s run to the College Football Playoff National Championship.

He utilized his skills as a photographer to create galleries for, as well as produce video packages for TV and web, and conduct interviews through Facebook Live.

Prior to his time at WKYC, Florjancic spent four seasons (2010-2013) as the staff writer for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. As part of his responsibilities, he provided written and visual content for, as well as game programs and materials distributed to season-ticket holders.

In his tenure with the Browns, Florjancic worked for at Super Bowls XLV, XLVI and XLVII, as well as multiple NFL Scouting Combine events.

Before joining the Browns, Florjancic served as a radio announcer for WOBL/WDLW Radio in Oberlin, Ohio, as well as a freelance sports reporter for The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio), and Also, Florjancic was a writer for The Daily Record (Wooster, Ohio), where he covered various sports, including the NBA and NCAA Divisions I and III colleges, bull-riding and Little League Baseball.

Florjancic earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting and mass communication from then-Baldwin-Wallace College in 2007. He was a member of the school’s chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honorary, a seven-time selection to the Dean’s List and four-year sports broadcaster/DJ for campus radio station WBWC. Also, he worked for the school newspaper, The Exponent, and yearbook as a sports reporter/photographer.

Florjancic is a member of the Cleveland Press Club, and since 2014, has won several awards for breaking news reporting and feature writing in the Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards competitions.