Golf helps swing community goodwill from simulation to reality in Roseville

Golf helps swing community goodwill from simulation to reality in Roseville Main Photo

5 Apr 2024

Success Stories

Imagine if there was a place of unity and enjoyment where a person could immerse themself in the magic of music and the precision of golf, creating an unforgettable fusion of rhythm, swing, and soul.

That vision is a reality at Roseville’s new PAR365, featuring indoor golf complemented by a bar, restaurant, lounge and, more importantly, a space to unite people.

“We set out with a plan to make golf affordable, accessible and approachable, where anyone could learn how to play without the intimidating aura that often accompanies golf culture,” said Thomas Jackson, co-owner of PAR365 with his wife (and majority-owner), Mercedes McFarland Jackson. “Instead of recreating a typical clubhouse, we wanted to create golf with a jazz lounge culture, and we believe we have delivered on that vision!” 

See what PAR365 is all about with this video!

Jazzing Up Golf

Since a grand opening at the beginning of the year, Thomas and Mercedes have seen the PAR365 experience start with its six state-of-the-art simulators, where golfers of all levels can enjoy year-round play, whether perfecting a swing or taking a first one. Each simulator has its own bay to bring users to the best courses worldwide to play 18 holes, a partial course, play games or hit the driving range. And all surrounded by the vibe of a modern jazz lounge.

Beginning with the golf itself, the Jacksons know golf culture can be insular, where it's difficult for a person to learn the game unless they know someone experienced who can teach them. So the reasonable pricing and welcoming environment of PAR365 beckons to all wishing to dive into the wonderful sport, said Thomas. 

“The response from the area golf community has been mixed so far because while some understand symbiosis, others fear it would take people off the course,” he said. “But we want our story to be one where we can serve the natural curiosity of what golf is and then help people expand outside to the course.” 

However, PAR365 is much more than an indoor golf studio, as the Jacksons have focused on creating a shared community space to bring people of any walk of life together. The result is a cool and relaxing ambiance, from the cozy seating arranged to promote small gatherings to the handcrafted cocktails from their full bar and gourmet eats from their kitchen, all with the feel of a modern jazz lounge. Initial comments from patrons are very promising, with hardcore golfers and newcomers commenting on how cool the experience is, said Mercedes.

“We want PAR365 to be a place for golfers, but also a community gathering place, where family and friends can sit, eat and network in a welcoming environment with the feel of Black-owned spaces with music, colors and culture,” she said. “Based on our research, we believe PAR365  is one of the country’s first Black-owned, and only the second Black woman-owned, indoor golf lounges. We are proud of that and want to build on that legacy.”

Recreational obsession becomes business creation

The concept for PAR365 came as the Jacksons introduced themselves to the game of golf during the pandemic. While sports were a focus of Thomas’ youth growing up in Chicago, golf was not an option. But he quickly became obsessed as he sought to be outside and still be with friends during the pandemic. Occasional weekend trips to the driving range became every weekend on the course.

“So I said, ‘You can golf every weekend, but you must take the kids with you,’” Mercedes said. “Well, he called my bluff because the kids and I came to love it too, quickly becoming a fun experience for the whole family.”

On a Christmas 2021 visit to Mercedes’ family in Toledo, the Jacksons spent some time with a golf simulator and connected with the leaders of aboutGolf, which manufactures their simulators. 

“Thomas often has some crazy ideas, but the whole drive home, we could not stop talking about the idea of opening up a business with these golf simulators,” Mercedes said. “By the time we arrived in Minnesota, we were looking for real estate.”

With nearly 20 years of experience as a business attorney and the education that comes with serving as a board member for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Mercedes was confident that they could leverage her expertise and Thomas’ over two decades of experience at Fortune 100 companies to manage the process of becoming small business owners. 

Roseville is the right place

Residents of Arden Hills, the Jacksons knew their business had to be close to home. They realized the City of Roseville would be a great partner in helping PAR365 happen from their first interaction. Specific assistance included navigating resources to access a loan program through Open to Business, provided by the Roseville Economic Development Authority and the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers. Additionally, they received Sewer Availability Charge proceeds that the City developed to write down the costs for new or existing businesses expanding in Roseville with less than five full-time employees. And just as importantly, City staff members were friendly, accessible and helpful at every turn in advising through the many bureaucratic processes involved in opening up a business. 

Mercedes cites one example of how PAR365’s concept made meeting the city’s liquor licensing requirements nearly impossible. “We explained our concept, and the City Council instantly understood the issue. During the next council meeting, they voted to change the licensing requirement to fit the needs of businesses like ours,” she said. “From the outset, Roseville has been a true partner in our experience, offering unequivocal excellent assistance.”   

Facing the future

Like most small businesses in today’s economic environment, the learning curve has been steep.

“Skyscraper steep! But our biggest concern is spring and summer weather,” Mercedes said. “So we are leaning into our abilities to offer events, from corporate events, office happy hours and birthday parties to jazz, music, DJs and other music in the lounge on nights and weekends.”

The Jacksons are optimistic that PAR365 can thrive in Roseville as a space to unite people and build community.

“The sport of golf and golf culture is often seen as one, but we believe it can be different,” said Thomas. “We need shared spaces offering social activity and opportunities for connection with people who probably would not cross paths in their day-to-day lives.”

"The Roseville Economic Development Authority (REDA) coordinates and administers economic development and redevelopment initiatives for the City of Roseville, MN. It serves as a comprehensive resource for businesses seeking to startup and grow in the area. In addition to prioritizing business retention and expansion, the REDA connects area employers with the dedicated and talented workforce they need to succeed and thrive."