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Austin Kopp returns home to fuse technology and fitness efficiently

CORALVILLE– Golfletics is a perfect place to discover the game of golf.
The new performance center features two cutting-edge public simulator bays where you can play some of the best courses in the world with no weather issues. In the back is a 600 square-foot gym and an additional instruction and club-fitting bay.
“It’s kind of a marriage of all my experience,” explained Solon native and North Liberty resident Austin Kopp.
Kopp, 35, graduated from Solon in 2002 and played on the high school’s golf team. After obtaining a degree in health and sports studies from the University of Iowa (UI) in 2006, he worked at and ran a high-end public course in the Chicago market.
That’s where he met his wife Christina, now working for UI Hospitals and Clinics.
The couple, with two young children and another on the way, recently moved back to the area.
“I wanted to get them back to the community I grew up in,” Kopp said.
The move coincided with his father Doug retiring from a career with Alliant Energy and the two became partners in Golfletics Performance Center. Austin quit his job in Chicago and the two have been working on the business plan for the last year.
The father and son hosted a soft opening Friday, Jan. 24, with a grand opening planned for Friday, Jan. 31, through Sunday, Feb. 2.
“I grabbed the opportunity,” Austin said. “Now’s as good as time as any.”
Interest in golf is at an all-time high, he said, but what’s really growing is indoor entertainment and club fitting.
“Everything has gone custom in the golf business,” he observed.
As a PGA member since 2012 with a foot in the fitness industry, he wanted his business to combine those elements together.
“It was always kind of my dream and vision as technology has progressed and gotten better,” he explained.
Simulators and launch monitors have become the industry standard for the amateur who wants to get better or the tour player looking for data.
“It’s kind of run of the mill technology for them now to have that opportunity to go and measure analytics,” he added. “It’s the way the game has moved.”
Golfletics will feature technology from industry leaders Foresight Sports and K-Motion.
Foresight Sports is accurate to about a yard, with indoor tracking capabilities capturing several thousand frames per second and spin rates upwards of 10,000 revolutions per minute, he said.
K-Motion’s video tracking shows a swing as a 3D representation.
Customers don a suit with five sensors which relay information Kopp can use as part of his instructional technique.
“I can tell you exactly where you’re at from a perspective of how much you’re bent over, you’re too upright, where your body’s at in your swing,” he said. “It has evolved a long way.”
With today’s technology, you can learn a lot about your golf game in fewer swings.
“One of our big things is working with golfers to create a program that’s individualized,” Austin explained. “But it’s also an efficient path to improvement. We put our focus on accuracy with technology.”
The data is put to use in the instruction area and the gym, where Austin is Titleist Performance Institute-certified.
“Fitness is a huge part of a professional golfer’s regimen,” he noted. “Golf’s a lifelong endeavor. So, it really mirrors your everyday life.”
If your body is more functional for golf, it’s also beneficial for day-to-day activities, he added.
Through personalized instruction and golf-specific training for groups and individuals, Golfletics is more focused on the health and wellness of the individual and improving golfers holistically– your swing, your fitness and getting you into the right equipment, he said.
Doug has been a guinea pig of sorts to test the brand-new equipment.
“We actually did a preliminary assessment on me and I wasn’t very good,” the silent partner said. “I was a little too stiff to play.”
Doug has been playing the game of golf since he was a child and introduced the game to his children.
While he had to buy off the shelf, choosing from a handful of shaft types, today’s golfer has the benefit of all kinds of equipment designed to help make the game easier to play, he said.
“That’s important because golf can be a really hard game to play. It’s hard to take it up and learn without playing a lot.”
If you and a friend want to play a quick nine holes of golf but you run into a foursome, you could be out there four-and-a-half hours, Doug said. Lock in a tee time at Golfletics, and you can be done in two hours.
Austin agreed.
The challenges with golf are the weather and pace of play.
“We’re open regardless, and it’s always 70 degrees in here,” Austin observed.
That’s the entertainment piece.
Along with leagues and events, the ForeSight Sports simulators feature Fairgrounds, a separate software program with games for all ages, like Putt-Skee, a golf-ish take on Skeeball.
“Part of the golf end of it needs to be fun,” Austin noted.
Golfletics is located in a new mixed-use Watts Group building on 1st Avenue in Coralville which offered the high ceilings needed for the business.
Location in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor was important, and the site’s easy access for Interstate 80 and its situation on a main thoroughfare heading to the hospital and stadiums weighed in the decision.
Clients can even watch eagles on the Iowa River across the street while they exercise.
Although Golfletics is located in Coralville, Austin wants to stay engaged with area high school teams. He hosted a free clinic for the Solon High School golf team and is seeking good relations with local coaches and courses.
But you don’t have to be a serious golfer to come here, he stressed.
Austin wants to keep it fun and enjoy the family business.
Golfletics is a place for a tenured golfer looking for improvement, but also for kids and adults who want to see what the game is all about in a welcoming, low-pressure environment.
“They can come in and they’re not going to have to chase their ball in the woods,” he said.

Golfletics Performance Center
308 1st Avenue No. 110, Coralville, Iowa