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Drive Shack eyes portion of Newport Beach Golf Course for golf entertainment complex

A company wants to convert the driving range and front nine holes of a public golf course in Newport Beach into a golf entertainment complex with augmented-reality play.

Drive Shack would offer three floors of hitting bays, dining, lounges and an outdoor pavilion where Newport Beach Golf Course’s traditional driving range and holes 1, 2 and 9 now sit, according to an application for the necessary city permits.

From those 102 bays, players could whack weighted balls at targets on a 180-yard field, enhancing the experience with radar-based ball tracking, simulated course play and other augmented-reality features, including games that meld golf with darts, blackjack and a juniors-friendly quest to rid the course of digital monsters and free trapped baby dragons. The facility also would serve as a standard driving range.

“While golf courses throughout the country are losing money or being redeveloped with different land uses, the proposed project allows for ongoing access to golf with a more modern approach,” according to the application from Drive Shack representative Shawna Schaffner. “Reducing the size of the course from 18 holes to nine holes is an appropriate contraction given the current trends in golf, and in recognition of the substantial number of public and private golf courses within the surrounding area.”

Newport Beach Golf Course is an 18-hole, par-59 executive course developed in the 1970s at 3100 Irvine Ave. The operator leases from two landlords: The 38-bay driving range, putting green, pro shop, restaurant, parking lot and front nine holes are on privately owned land; the rest is on county property known officially as the “south clear zone” of John Wayne Airport.

Drive Shack opened its first location, in Orlando, Fla., in 2018. Venues in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., and West Palm Beach, Fla., followed last year. It markets itself to a range

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