Episode 71 – Bob Gretz, Bob’s Indoor Golf (B.I.G.)
Avid Golfers Rejoice
When Bob's wife informed him that they were moving from Washington, D.C. to Idaho Falls to be closer to family he immediately investigated what East Idaho would offer him in the way of golfing. Learning that there was only about 7 months of the year where golfing was feasible he quickly started to panic wondering what he'd do without his daily golfing “fix”. This led to him to investigate the availability of indoor golf facilities and he found that our area was severely lacking in this services. “One of the reasons it's so cool is because of this market. I started looking at some numbers and there are 6000 regular golfers in Idaho Falls and the number of rounds they put in the 7 month season is really big. I figured there had to be a need to put in an indoor golf facility,” Bob said.
Bob's career prior to this has been in corporate America in the waste management business. He admits he didn't see himself doing this at this point in his life. “It's fun,” he said. “I have really gotten more people who are saying thanks for doing this instead of why are you doing this. The people are fun,” he said.
Bob explained the facility is for anyone, novice to expert. “The worst part about public golf is the constant feeling of someone behind you, staring you down, it's stressful,” Bob said. This facility allows new learners to practice and get comfortable with the game before getting on the real course. It also allows experts to come and perfect their game.
Taking a leap of faith is the way that Bob said he jumped into this. Although he didn't have financing secured he went ahead and signed a lease on the space. He was able to find a bank that supported his vision and financed the dream. “Sink or swim,” he said.
Bob is grateful that he has had a lot of family and friends who have pitched in and helped from his wife painting the wall murals to his daughter taking care of the books and his son-in-law coming from Colorado to put together the putting green.
“The first winter was better than we anticipated, by mid-Feb we were 7 days a week pushing 12 hours. And then COVID hit,” he said, “We are doing a day at a time things right now.” He believes that that the pandemic has really pushed people to buy local. He's seen individuals really supporting local business.
The facility not only houses golf but the East Idaho Cornhole Association also uses the space for cornhole practice and events. It is also a place where you can bring your business associates and do team building events with the simulators or putting practice. There is a conference room available too.
When recalling the challenges of starting the business he said, “There are little things you don't know going in.” Bob shared that there were price points that he's bumped up against that he didn't anticipate as well as challenges with his beer and wine license. The advantage of it just being him running the business is that he's been able to make adjustments quickly.
Bob has also faced physical challenges. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 10 years ago. When asked if this has been a barrier for him he said, “I don't let it be a barrier. When the end of the day comes around I'm pretty worn out. I have to pace myself. Everyone here knows it and understands it. This is one of the most unbiased populations I've ever lived in. They watch out for me. It's nice. It's a pain in the butt dealing with any kind of handicap but it gives you a look into how other people have to live and there are people worse off than you,” he said.
Although the corporate world is steady, Bob wishes he would have left it long ago and started a business. He believes in being involved in the business and being present for the customers to see him. His vision for the business is to continue to grow his clientele and be here for those starved for golf all year round.
The Business Leadership Moment
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