Golden Tee opened the door in the back in 1989 when the arcade cabinet debuted and the golf video game quickly became a fixture at bars and restaurants. Technology has improved in the three decades since, but golf remains a popular draw for dinners and drinkers. Mini golf and driving range bars, like Five Iron Golf and Big Mini, have surged in popularity in recent years, and a new enterprise in Bucktown, along the Elston Industrial Corridor. is implementing cutting-edge simulators to bring a new breed of bar to Chicago.
Powered by a South Korean-made video simulator, Golfzon, the Green should open in mid-September at 2131 N. Elston Avenue, hoping to draw serious golfers who want to work on their swings (perhaps during the winter months when outdoor play isn’t possible), groups wanting to try something different on the weekend, and private parties.
Golfzon has been seen at bars, fitness centers, and country clubs. Each bay, which allows players to bring their own clubs and swing, costs between $40,000 to $70,000. PGA pro Kevin Na has one for home use. It’s an immersive experience, for example the floor adjusts underneath the player’s feet to convey elevation.
The Green will surround its bar with nine of these machines — one is a bit sequestered, reserved for private events. The 36-seat oval-shaped bar is literally in the middle, with TVs hanging above. Each simulator-equipped bay will also have its own TV. The screen will show more than golf, so fans of all sports may have a new spot to check out.
Co-owners Matt Barry and Connor Ptacin feel they’re on the verge of something special in Chicago, but say that all the fancy gadgetry will be for naught if they don’t nail the food, drink, and service. Barry says the goal “first and foremost” is to entertain and be hospitable. The bar is full service, servers will take verbal orders and they won’t rely on tablets.
The menu is mostly done with sandwiches, wraps, salads, They’re paying tribute to the Masters with their own version of the pimento sandwich served at Augusta National. There’s also a special kobe hot dog with bacon giardiniera. Ownership isn’t ready to reveal who’s behind the menu, but says it’s a familiar name in the restaurant world. There’s also a breakfast menu as ownership hopes to attract a morning crowd of customers who want to work on their games before work. Think grab-and-go fare and coffee.
The bar’s equipped with eight draft lines for beer, but Barry is excited about the cocktail menu and the golf-related names for 18 shots, coinciding with the number of holes on a course; No. 6 is called the “Worm Burner” and is made with Jeppson’s Malört. The No. 5, called the ”Hosel Rocket” is a whiskey shot with a pickleback. They’ll also serve spirit-free options.
“We are for everybody,” says Barry. “We are for people who are very competitive with golf, people who golf a couple times a year, and people who just want to have fun.”
The Green will also have a club that offers discounts on reservations and food. Stay tuned for more coverage as the opening date grows closer.
The Green, 2131 N. Elston Avenue, planned for a mid-September opening.