By Melanie Boyung
Special to the News Graphic
GERMANTOWN — Clubs are swinging at Stix Golf Bar in Germantown, where owners Ryan and Daniel Hughes spent last year expanding the business and planning for the future.
Stix, at W164-N11271 Squire Drive, was opened on Feb. 14, 2018 by the Hughes brothers. It began with six Full Swing golf simulators, 10 televisions and a sports bar area. Full Swing partners with the PGA, and the brothers said they have roughly 100 courses from across the nation that patrons can play on the simulators at Stix. The idea for Stix Golf Bar began as a business plan project in college, developed by the golfing brothers who were part of a state-winning Cedarburg High School golf team, who continued to golf on scholarships at Eastern Illinois University and now participate in amateur tournaments.
“It was a college project of ours. We had an entrepreneurship class junior year,” Ryan Hughes said.
“I actually got a B- on it, which is kind of funny,” he added.
Opened about a year after they graduated college, the twin brothers said Stix is growing each year, and business this winter has been their best so far, in spite of a year when months were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got through it, and now it’s going better than ever,” they said.
The Hughes said that they were closed from mid-March through early June during the Safer at Home order from Gov. Tony Evers. While they reopened briefly in order to finish up the previous winter’s season that was cut short by the closures — Stix has golf leagues, in which more than 100 teams compete in Full Swing simulation golf — they closed again for July and August to expand the business.
“We expanded 2,000 square feet into the vacant space next door,” Ryan Hughes said. “It kept us busy during COVID, when we had to shut down.”
He said summer is their offseason already. Golfers are outside on physical courses during good weather, so it is during winter that their business picks up. Using the slow summer through the pandemic to expand, the new space has artificial turf, picnic tables, bags and a ping pong table, creating the feel of an outdoor recreation space inside Stix.
Expanding created room for spreading out and adding activities at Stix, while still allowing people to social distance during the pandemic. This weekend, Stix held a “beer Olympics” with bags toss, beer pong and ping pong. The Hughes brothers are also preparing for a bags toss league this winter, which is set to begin in February. Daniel Hughes said they will plan more events of that kind, if they are successful.
While the Hughes brothers said they haven’t had much in the way of events thus far — with pandemic conditions continuing, large numbers of people gathering is still on hold — they said the new space will allow them to host birthday parties, business team-building gatherings and many other events in the future.
Expanding the Germantown location helped the Hughes brothers continue building their business this year when the pandemic prevented other projects. Daniel and Ryan Hughes said in early spring last year, they had been working on a second Stix location in Brookfield, and were fairly far along in the process, working with the city on approvals when shutdowns began.
With closures, distancing and the burdens of the pandemic, the brothers chose to drop the plans for a Brookfield location, deeming it too risky to try to start a bar during the conditions and restrictions of COVID-19.
While that plan may not have found fruition, the Hughes brothers are ready to move forward. They have recently signed onto the Northern Gateway development in Saukville, which is a planned community Ansay Development and Mel’s Charities are seeking to build off Highway 33 and Interstate 43. Ryan Hughes said they will have between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet for a new Stix location.
Stix has a website, stixgolfbar. com. Those looking for more information about the business or to book a tee time can do so online.
The Hughes brothers built out the space during summer 2020, adding bag toss games, ping pong and space for patrons to spread out and relax.
Ryan Hughes winds up his swing playing a course on one of the Stix Full Swing simulators.
Brothers Ryan, left, and Daniel Hughes opened Stix Golf in 2018. They say that Stix is a family-friendly local business: while there is a bar, their main focus is recreation, and they want families to be able to bring in young golfers and be comfortable there.