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Albatross Indoor Golf Club gives players sanctuary from endless winter

More snow meant more business for Albatross as the cold weather persisted on into the final days of April.

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Andrew Krauseneck, owner of Albatross Golf in the Columbia Mall, is seeing an increase in business due to the extended winter.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Andrew Krauseneck, owner of Albatross Indoor Golf Club in Grand Forks, may be one of the only people in the region to have good things to say about the long winter months of late 2021 and early 2022.

“We haven't had a winter this long since I opened,” Krauseneck said. “I opened at the end of 2012, so that spring of 2013 I know we had pretty good business even through May 1, or the first week of May. But this is the longest winter since then for sure.”

More snow meant more business for Albatross as the cold weather persisted on into the final days of April. Krauseneck said last year, Albatross was closed a month earlier. In 2020, COVID-19 shutdowns forced the golf club to close its doors.

The long winter has allowed Albatross to continue hosting high school teams as they practice for the upcoming season, which has been delayed due to snow. Krauseneck hoped when he started Albatross to build a place to attract competitive players, groups, teams and casual players alike, and North Dakota winters make for many high school and middle school teams coming in to get swings in.

“When they start practices, they might hit in some nets and their gyms, or in the hallways, or I talked to even one of the schools, they’re hitting into their curtain in the theater on the stage, but this allows them to get out and actually get some feedback.”

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A culmination of factors — including the frigid temperatures — have combined to create a perfect storm for Albatross Indoor Golf Club. Another ingredient Krauseneck credits for the golf club’s recent success is an uptick in popularity for the sport. He said the golf club has benefited from a cultural shift. Golf is becoming “cool.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Krauseneck said. “I think any business that's golf-related has reaped those benefits. Indoor golf, golf courses, golf retailers, I think indoor golf specifically has really aided in nationally getting more people into golf, too. It's just a more comfortable environment for someone that's learning. They're not worried about someone waiting for him, waiting behind them on the golf course, or a bunch of people watching them. They can have it as more of a social environment too where bigger groups are together.”

Krauseneck also credits the COVID-19 pandemic with boosting golf’s popularity as well. An article from Golf Digest suggests the sport’s popularity surged 2020’s viewership increase being the “highest in 17 years.”

A sport he said was once “stuffy” and openly indicative of a white-collar atmosphere has become more accessible to teenagers, children and those without significant means.

“I think things like indoor golf, golf simulation, Top Golf and activities like that have gotten more people into golf that wouldn't have… It’s very inclusive” Krauseneck said.

Albatross Indoor Golf Club moved to Columbia Mall in 2021 and reopened that October. The new location brought the golf club to enough square footage to increase from four golf simulators to six with plans for adding another two simulators in the future.

Krauseneck said the old space, while it served its purpose well for years, left the business constrained and “tapped out” at four simulators. The new location in Columbia Mall allowed for the business to grow with the sport it caters to in real time.

Also on the menu for future expansions is a shooting simulator where customers can practice shooting and firearm safety without the use of real firearms.

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“The military and law enforcement use them for training,” Krauseneck said. “If you go to some bigger cities, where they have a live fire range, they might also have one of these shooting simulators. It's kind of like the golf simulators. They're super accurate, so it's great for training, but then it's also a great way for people that aren't comfortable with shooting a gun, they can do it. It's a much safer way to do it.”

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Albatross Golf held golf tournament fundraisers at its previous location for nonprofit groups, and Krauseneck wants to get together with school administrators and team coaches to schedule tournaments to raise money for local teams, as well to be used for time with golf simulators, equipment, travel expenses or other needs.

The old location closed completely in the summer once golf season was underway. Krauseneck said in Columbia Mall, Albatross will hold summer events for groups, as well as company outings, parties and more.

“We're not going to have regular hours during the summer,” Krauseneck said. “It's not going to be day-to-day this summer. Hopefully by next summer, we will have a little more regular schedule year round by next summer, but this summer we are going to be available for bookings.”

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESS
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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