These days, golf culture is constantly evolving on and off the course. New venues to enjoy the game are bringing veteran and novel golfers together, with Five Iron Golf leading the charge. Five Iron Golf’s flagship location is in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue at the epicenter of New York’s hustle and bustle – providing an image one may not always see in the city: Men and women carrying golf bags alongside taxis.
With another location in New York and three more on the way across the U.S., we wanted to catch up with co-founder Jared Solomon to see where Five Iron Golf came from and where it’s going next.
Imperial: For those who don’t know of Five Iron Golf, can you describe it in five words?
Jared: Fun, welcoming, accessible, educational and memorable.
Imperial: Okay, it’s much more than that. Let’s hear the backstory of Five Iron Golf.
Jared: Our story begins in early 2015 when I was taking lessons from Mike Doyle in a simulator in the back of a men’s clothing store in midtown Manhattan. As the demand for Mike’s lessons grew throughout 2015 and 2016, Mike and I started dreaming about an indoor facility where he could teach more lessons and golfers could work to improve their games—all while flipping standard golf culture on its head and appealing to everyone.
With Mike and me clueless as to how to actually execute this grand idea, our final two co-founders, summer camp friends Nora Dunnan and Katherine Solomon (also my wife) entered the scene. With Nora steering the ship and Katherine navigating us through some early legal storms, Five Iron Golf was launched and open for business in mid-2017.
Imperial: We often hear that Five Iron Golf is for everyone, but it seems to have a good amount of serious golfers as members. Why do you think that is?
Jared: Convenience and technology. We offer serious golfers with an urban lifestyle a convenient spot to practice and play with the data and technology to improve their games. We host Full Swing simulators, Trackman lesson studios, teaching professionals, lessons, leagues, club storage, showers, complimentary top-of-the line clubs and in-house club fitting specialists. Not to mention, serious golfers also love our non-golf amenities with a full bar, fantastic food menu, games like ping pong, shuffleboard, pool or Golden Tee (depending on the location), widescreen TVs, NFL Sunday Ticket, a regular Women & Wine event, and much more.
Imperial: Do you think indoor golf and other non-traditional venues bring more people to the golf course? How so?
Jared: Definitely! For players who have never been on a golf course, having a first taste of golf with Five Iron makes them realize it is ok to not know every facet of the game and still have fun with it! There is plenty to learn, but our stance is that playing golf really isn’t that hard. It may be hard to compete and win money playing golf at a high level, but anyone can enjoy the game. The nice thing about being in a simulator is not losing any balls, dealing with bad lies, or having a group or ranger telling you to go faster. Also, plenty of people who stopped playing when they moved into the city started to pick the game up again because of the ease of access. When you come to 5i it’s easy to get bitten by the golf bug.
Imperial: Five Iron Golf is quickly growing. What are your short and long term goals for the company and brand?
Jared: In the short term, we are focused on giving a great customer experience and prioritize that over everything else on a daily basis. That being said, building a strong team and empowering all of our staff to take ownership and make decisions will be critical to our next three locations’ success and is our main long-term focus. Our overall goal is to make golf more accessible and less intimidating for everyone.
Imperial: Have any moments surprised you in launching Five Iron Golf?
Jared: The strength of community has been an amazing surprise. We started with a membership offering that was supposed to be a too-good-to-be-true deal allowing players to have unlimited hitting time in our off peak hours (6am-4pm). The members who come at 6am to practice, hit the showers and go to work have become some of our best brand ambassadors. They play in our leagues, rep our swag on the course, and bring their company events here. Building something that others have come to love as a sanctuary and a reprieve from their busy day has been super important to our growth and a very pleasant surprise.