If you’re looking for a new outing for your boo or crew, you’re in luck because 5 Under is coming soon to Beaumont. A state-of-the-art golf gaming, lounge, and bar, you don’t have to be a pro (or have any experience at all) to have a ball putting and putting them back. We caught up with President Austin Williams to discuss the new venture, his background, and how he sees the venue contributing to the growing entertainment scene. Let’s get swinging…
Are you from SE Texas?
Yes, I was born in Beaumont and have lived here most of my life. I graduated from West Brook in 1997 and was recruited by several universities to play golf right out of high school. I originally signed a letter of intent at LSU, but as fate would have it, Brad McMakin recruited me to stay home and attend Lamar University where I played collegiate golf for two years before transferring to University Louisiana-Lafayette on scholarship. I played there for three more years before coming back to Lamar to finish my degree in finance and be the Graduate Assistant Coach.
What's your background?
In 2003, I started working full-time at Games People Play and was there for 15+ years. We grew the e-commerce business 10 times what it started and won numerous retail awards during my tenure. In 2017, I formed a new venture with an investment group that took over the space, which is now called 5 Under Golf Center. In early 2018, we partnered with TopGolf to bring a Topgolf Swing Suite and Toptracer Range to SETX.
A what suite?
The Topgolf Suites are tricked out with game simulators, food, cocktails, and industry-leading ball tracking technology so individuals and groups can enjoy an immersive lounge experience that’s as casual or competitive as you want. While outdoor golf on a course can seem intimidating, this is first and foremost a social experience and nightlife venue. The bays are programmed with a variety of games for both experienced players and newbies to enjoy. You set the difficulty and whether you want to practice aim, distance or something entirely different like zombie dodgeball, soccer, baseball, or even computer-simulated carnival games.
How did you come to open a venue like this?
Somewhat by design and somewhat by accident. Games People Play was closing, and my parents owned the property. If I was going to stay in the golf realm, I knew we need to do something radically different since retail was suffering. I started to work on a business plan in 2016 and having conversations with TopGolf executives I’d met over the years through the industry. They convinced me that entertainment was the way of the future. We had a meeting and it just took off from there. At the time, TopGolf's focus was major metropolitan areas and not smaller cities like Beaumont but we bet on each other.
What do you think about Beaumont's hospitality scene?
I think there is a lot of untapped opportunity here, which is why you are starting to see lots of new national chains, restaurants, and venues pop up. I used to say Beaumont was the last to adopt trends and opportunities, but that’s finally starting to change. Most Topgolf Swing Suites are in very high-end hotels and restaurants, Beaumont is extremely lucky to be getting a venue like this.
We can't wait for the new spot -- what details can you share?
The anticipated opening date pending outdoor construction is March 1. Reservations can be made at Opentable.com or on our website www.5undergolf.com