Canyonville Golf Club opening in downtown Great Falls

Don and Mike Potter, and Joyce Thares are opening Canyonville Golf Club at 410 Central this winter.

They’re hoping to open by Feb. 1, contingent on building access being completed for the second floor of the former Strain Building downtown.

“We like to golf ourselves and we thought it would be a fun thing to do in Great Falls,” Mike Potter said.

They’ll sell memberships that come with a key fob that allow access to the golf club. At the two interior doors that lead into the golf rooms, there’s a credit card reader similar to those at car washes around town. Members enter their card and room use is billed hourly to their accounts.

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That allows the trio to operate Canyonville with minimal staff requirements, lowering their costs, and the Potters also operate Mountain Tire, which is just down the stairs from the new golf club.


One of the simulators at Canyonville Golf Club at 410 Central. Photo by Jenn Rowell | The Electric

Canyonville received its safety inspection certificate from Great Falls Fire Rescue in November and aside from waiting on the building access, they’re ready to open, Thares and the Potters said.

Members can schedule tee times online once the website is launched. The club includes two separate rooms, both with a high-end golf simulator and golfing games, including Blackjack golf and Hit the Ducky, that are more for multi-user fun, versus serious golfers. Doors in between the rooms can be opened allowing the entire space to be rented for private parties. There’s also a realistic putting green designed by Mike Potter than undulates as natural ground would.

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“We think it will be a fantastic thing for people in Great Falls,” Don Potter said and it’s particularly useful for northern states where weather can limit play.

They’re using the Full Swing golf simulator, which is used by a number of golf pros, including Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington.

The Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena has three simulator bays and also the Full Swing system.

Don Potter said their system at Canyonville has 84 high-end golf courses in the software for golfers to choose from and play those courses before visiting or just for practice. The courses are detailed and realistic and the program allows players to set conditions such as wind speed, Don Potter said.

“You can have lots of fun without having to chase the ball around,” Joyce Thares said.

The screens absorb much of the force of the golf ball so it gently rolls back toward the player.

They’re also using E6Golf software that allows players to create accounts and track their progress as they play on the simulators and analyze their game.

There are a few local golf pros who have expressed interest in offering lessons through Canyonville, but those plans are all preliminary they said.

Players can also form golf leagues at Canyonville.

Players may bring their own golf clubs, but some basic sets will also be available at Canyonville for those who don’t have their own.

Each room has a small fridge and televisions so players can bring their own food and drinks and watch sports, movies or listen to music while they play. Members can bring their friends or family to play.

Thares said they’ll have orientation sessions for new members and an instruction book with each room on how to operate the systems.

Don Potter said they’re anticipating that Canyonville will be a draw for downtown employees and lunchtime players.