Though its official origins are still up for debate, golf dates back to 15th century Scotland. The sport has taken many twists and turns through its storied history, but what was once viewed as something for only the privileged or wealthy is more readily accessible than it has ever been before.
Where we used to prefer a traditional 18-hole or nine-hole round at Hurricane, Long Hills, or Silver Springs Golf Courses, we might today choose the arena-style target experience of TopGolf. Now, Saline County has an upscale, chic third option all its own with the opening of Swing Shop off I-30, near the Starbucks and Applebee’s locations in Benton.
“Swing Shop is such an exciting new experience for everyone in Benton,” said Laurie Neely, co-owner. “It really does have something to offer everyone who comes and plays with us. The flow is great, and the vibe is wonderful. It has exceeded all expectations we could have imagined.”
Co-owned by Neely and her husband, Sam, Swing Shop offers two open hitting bays, four private bays, an indoor putting green, a bar, and several televisions to enjoy while playing.
“We love the sport of golf, but we don’t see Swing Shop as a sports bar. This is a family-friendly business appealing to all types of golfers with different interests and skill levels. From players who take their games seriously, to kids who just want to try and hit the ball hard, our goal is to attract everyone.”
In addition to its top-shelf amenities, Swing Shop also incorporates the newest virtual golfing technology through the Trackman Indoor Simulator. Combining sophisticated radar and cameras, Trackman measures a player’s swing speed, how they strike the ball, and how fast the ball leaves the club to simulate how and where the ball would travel in a real-world setting. The simulator, which also includes dozens of courses from which to choose, is used by recreational and serious golfers alike.
“This is a comfortable, inviting space, intended to welcome all those who want to come in and play,” Neely said. “From the fixtures to the countertops to the bays and Trackman, nothing in the area looks like what you’ll find when you walk in our front door.
“If you join us in one of the two public bays, the experience is a little more open, with access to the bar and televisions,” she added. “Booking private bays allows you access to your own music and your own television.”
Neely is a former Benton school teacher who left the profession following COVID. Her husband and business partner, Sam, is a former executive with a car washing company. Following both of their career changes during the past two years, the couple agreed they wanted to build something different.
“This is the first time we’ve owned the business, so this is all new to us,” she said. “We were both really thoughtful about what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives, and what we could do to provide something meaningful to our children, as well as other families in Saline County.”
Though still starting out as small business owners, Laurie says she and her husband are already thinking about how Swing Shop could grow in the coming years.
“Our goal is for this to prove successful, allowing us to expand into other areas of Central Arkansas,” she said. “We pride ourselves on having a local, hometown feel, and we like the idea of possibly expanding in the future to other areas like Benton and Bryant.
Swing Shop offers various membership and gift card packages, just in time for the holiday season. “Our goal is that no one will ever leave here unhappy,” Neely said. “So far, we’re doing okay and we look forward to what the future has to offer.”
The shop is in “full swing” after celebrating its official Grand Opening on November 7th. Swing Shop is located at 17340 I-30 Frontage Rd. in Benton. Operating hours are Monday-Thursday 10a-10p, Friday and Saturday 10a-11p and Sunday 1-7p.
For more information or to book your outing, you can reach the shop at 501.451.4669 or atswingshopgolf.com.