The half-dozen domes that graced western New York in the early 2000s were reduced to one last fall, when the Wehrle Dome in Lancaster underwent a redesign. The domes at South Shore, Wheatfield, Niagara Falls (am I forgetting any?) had faded into memory long ago, and the potential to lose another was palpable. Thanks to the efforts of a new ownership group, The Dome has opened once more for business, and is quite becoming.

The outdoor range is gone. In its place is a continuation of the condominium development that lurked behind its netting. As one enters the indoor facility, the golf shop, evaluation bays and club repair space remain as they were before. On the right, Rule 26 replaces the Murphy’s Pub, although it has yet to open for dining. Inside the bubble, a new skin covers the hitting area. Gone is the large putting green. In its place is an in-outdoor dining area, an extension of the restaurant. On the opposite side, a massive bar extends down at least 15 hitting bays. All of the space that previously seemed wasted is replaced with a functional place to drink and eat.

In addition, all of the hitting bays have been refitted with new mats. The turf that extends to the deep wall is new, and the reaction of the ball to turf more closely resembles a golf course. You might remember the old landing zone, which was little more than concrete covered by a thin veil of turf. Trust me that this new stuff is a massive improvement. The Dome website announces practice greens as an amenity, but I did not see one during my visit. I’ve yet to see a realistic one at any dome in western New York. They are faster than any area green and they certainly don’t respond to pitches and chip shots like a green should.

Gone are the swipe cards on which golfers store their credits. A new distribution system begins with a coded receipt. One enters the number into the machine, then selects the desired bucket size. I suspect that one could pay for multiple buckets and keep the receipt until the funds are exhausted. I did not notice multiple-bucket discounts, nor was I looking for them. The golf balls used at The Dome are new as well. OnCore, the local golf ball producers, have the contract to supply practice balls, and they are nicer than the standard practice ball. 

The Paddock Dome still rules the school when it comes to the kids. The miniature golf course and the game zone are unrivaled for entertainment in Buffalo-Niagara. With this iteration of an indoor, adult-oriented facility, I suspect that The Dome might have found its niche, guaranteeing it success for years to come.

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