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posted: 11/12/2021 6:00 AM

Up your golf game: New indoor training and practice center opens in St. Charles

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  • Mike's Golf Center in St. Charles has eight course simulator stations, each with access to more than 200,000 golf courses from Augusta National to local ones like St. Charles Country Club.

    Mike's Golf Center in St. Charles has eight course simulator stations, each with access to more than 200,000 golf courses from Augusta National to local ones like St. Charles Country Club.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 

At 23 years old, Mike Foy of South Elgin can say he's spent a lifetime playing golf and learning how to teach it and manage a golf business. Ultimately, area golfers may find it highly beneficial that Foy has chosen to operate such a business in St. Charles.

As a youngster in Elkhart, Indiana, Foy took up the game at age 7 and eventually went on to play at Methodist University in North Carolina, where he also went through professional golf management courses.

After years of doing internships during college and managing a golf program in New York after graduation in 2019, Foy decided he wanted to come home to the Midwest.

And he chose St. Charles to open Mike's Golf Center, a large indoor golf training and practice facility at 731 N. 17th St. in the Foundry Business Park near Dean Street.

"Teaching junior players is my big thing, but I teach all age and skill levels," said Foy, who promotes membership and coach-student relationships that have some longevity.

"I do a student assessment, look at the whole game and put together a game plan for how someone could succeed quickly," Foy said.

"I do private lessons, but if you give one lesson, and the student goes out and plays bad, then you might not see them come back for a while," he added. "I want it to be long-term, where you work on the game constantly, not just once every few months."

Mike Foy of South Elgin is the owner of Mike's Golf Center at 731 N. 17th Street in St. Charles.
Mike Foy of South Elgin is the owner of Mike's Golf Center at 731 N. 17th Street in St. Charles. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

In addition to eight course simulator stations, each with access to more than 200,000 golf courses from Augusta National to local ones like St. Charles Country Club, the center also has a 1,000 square-foot putting and chipping practice area, with different cuts of artificial grass to chip off.

"It's a really good area to work on your game, because not a lot of courses have practice areas you can go to," Foy said. "This is a great practice area for the winter."

Anyone who rents one of the simulator stations for an hour also gets access to the putting and chipping area.

Foy said he's been fortunate to have local youth golf instructor Rich Flores of Batavia serving as "a huge mentor of mine" in sharing his experiences of the past several decades on the local golf scene. Flores, who continues to get periodic chemotherapy treatments for a blood disease, has cut back on some of his own teaching.

"Rich isn't a business partner or anything, but we talk at least once a week and he brings a group of his students in here and I let him do his thing," Foy said.

Mostly, Foy wants to present a public facility for golfers, particularly targeting those ages 5 to 13. He wants the membership feel of a country club, without the restrictions of a country club.

"I never had a place like this growing up and I want people in here using it, and I am here to help them," Foy said. "I love it here in the St. Charles area and I want to get more involved with the community and schools -- and stay here for a long time."

No new restaurant yet

All kinds of excitement was unfolding on social media sites about a small sign on the front door of the former Claddagh Irish Pub site in the Geneva Commons stating "New restaurant is coming."

As of last week, the city hasn't seen any plans or even issued a building permit for that site. So that small sign apparently didn't reveal any other information for a reason.

The same holds true for the former Houlihans restaurant site in that same area of the Commons. There is no activity that would indicate a new business would be coming in there soon.

We'd all like to see those buildings filled with new eateries. This would be especially good for those shopping in Geneva Commons.

Even though it is somewhat of a fading concept, it simply makes sense for restaurants to locate near shopping districts.

But there's still a reality restaurant owners and investors are dealing with: Though slowly improving, it remains difficult to find chefs, line cooks, waiters and hostesses for these places.

For toys and eats

Bill White, owner of State Street Collision in Geneva, had a great idea last year when placing a Toys for Tots drop-off bin for the holidays at his business at 802 E. State St.

Because the pandemic was making life miserable for area restaurants, he came up with the idea of buying a bunch of gift cards from the local eateries and giving one to those who drop off a new, unwrapped toy at the auto body shop.

"Last year we handed out about 80 gift cards that we bought from Tri-City restaurants," White said. "I did it because I felt we were way less affected than so many restaurants that were totally closed or trying to survive on takeout."

He's doing the same thing again this year, and Nicole Verone of Villa Verone restaurant has again volunteered to do most of the "running around and buying cards," White noted.

This is not surprising. Anyone who has ever talked to the Verone family knows they want to see all restaurants in the area do well, believing all boats rise in the positive tide when residents realize how many good restaurants operate locally.

The State Street Collision toy drive takes place through Tuesday, Dec. 7.

That last flea market

Last week, I mentioned the November flea market at the Kane County Fairgrounds was the last one for 2021. Flea market patrons were quick to let me know the last one is actually Dec. 4 and 5.

It makes sense that flea market organizers and vendors would want to have a last hurrah in December with the holidays unfolding. Plus, a strong December this year could help make up for some lost time -- and visitors -- during the past year related to COVID-19 setbacks.

In addition, I mentioned the entryway to the flea market parking as being off Prairie Street. It's actually off the Oak Street extension.

I suspect the mistakes came about from going off on a tangent during my conversation with Irv Brummel about his furniture business at the flea market. We both grew up in Naperville, and we took a little trip down memory lane.

Extraordinary is more like it

I know it's been more than a year since construction work began for a new restaurant in downtown St. Charles, but when considering how some other projects in the region seem to take forever, this one went quickly.

Graceful Ordinary is scheduled to open its doors Friday, Nov. 12, and it's a welcome addition for those who may have wondered the past several years what might happen at the former BMO Harris Bank building along Main Street.

Executive chef Chris Curren and wife Megan bring a lot of experience in the restaurant game to their upscale restaurant, which they describe as having "tavern fare through a chef-driven lens."

It's called the Graceful Ordinary, but a look at the menu of small plates and interesting entrees, as well as an array of new and old-world wines and a craft beer list featuring local distilleries, tells us to expect this to be an extraordinary experience for patrons.

A raffle chance

Switching to a straight raffle with a jackpot of $2,000 rather than the drawdown event it used to stage prior to the pandemic, members of the Tri-Cities Exchange Club are selling $100 raffle tickets for the Nov. 23 drawing.

Funds raised through the raffle will be donated to local agencies and support club efforts as it continues to focus on the prevention of child abuse and the promotion of patriotism.

Those interested in buying raffle tickets can contact club member John Arthur Anderson at (630) 267-6008 and he'll even deliver tickets.

dheun@sbcglobal.net