Friends, Food, Golf Make a Perfect Combination

Byron’s newest attraction brings together a year-round driving range and a menu that stands on its own merits. Explore what makes PrairieFire Golf & Grill so tempting for so many.

This jumbo Bavarian pretzel, found at PrairieFire Golf & Grill, is served with beer cheese and Düsseldorf mustard.

What’s better than playing golf in the cold winter months? How about a cold beer and some loaded fries in between shots?

Located right next to the clubhouse at PrairieView Golf Club, in Byron, Ill., PrairieFire Golf & Grill allows golfers to swing a club year-round on a driving range that’s unlike any other.

Opened last summer, PrairieFire is a driving range facility equipped with eight hitting bays, featuring Toptracer technology that includes several fun and interactive game modes. Toptracer uses high-tech cameras to track balls, as seen on several PGA tournament broadcasts.

The hitting bays are equipped with heaters, fire tables and lounge furniture, creating a year-round destination. Targets on the driving range light up at night so golfers can hit well after dark.

Game modes include longest drive and closet to the pin. Golfers can also test their game on world-renowned virtual golf courses, like Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

Of course, golf isn’t the only attraction. The grill’s diverse menu was strategically designed to feed groups of hungry people who want to enjoy a bite between games.

“We have people who come in groups and, as they’re golfing, we try to provide options that are sharable and easy to eat while playing golf,” says Scott deOliveira, assistant general manager.

The menu includes plenty of bar and grill favorites, but perhaps its biggest surprises come with the word “bison” – and we’re not talking hot wings.

“People are also into bison burgers because they’ve got Omega-3s, they’re grass fed most of the time, and they’re healthier for you,” says Todd Tucker, executive director of the Byron Forest Preserve District, which owns PrairieFire and the PrairieView Golf Club. “It’s also leaner than ground beef, but still has a lot of flavor.”

deOliveira believes the bison dishes pay tribute to this region’s rich history and the forest preserve’s restored landscape.

“Long ago, there were bison that roamed this prairie and the oak savanna that the course and range are located on,” he says. “The bison is the theme of our golf course.”

Sharables are another major attraction on the menu, and it doesn’t get more shareable than the Loaded PrairieFire Fries. These seasoned waffle fries are loaded with seasoned bison meat, beer cheese, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos.

“That’s something people really like,” deOliveira says.

The Bison Bites, another favorite, combine shredded potatoes, seasoned bison meat and cheese.

“It’s like a potato fritter, but it has seasoned bison, mozzarella cheese and potatoes, and it’s rolled into a fritter and fried,” deOliveira says. “It’s a unique dish that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

Plenty of customers prefer what’s not on so sharable – choices like the Italian beef sandwich, grilled pesto chicken and the PrairieFire Burger, loaded with bacon, jalapeños, cheddar cheese and a unique PrairieFire sauce.

Ten beers are on tap, many of which are locally sourced from places like Pig Minds, in Machesney Park, Ill.; Lena Brewing Co., in Lena, Ill.; and Generations Brewing Co., in Freeport.

PrairieFire also has plenty of spirits, and it serves a wide variety of wines that can be purchased by the bottle and shared at the golfing bays.

Save room for dessert, because the menu includes sharable dessert items, including brownie bites and the dessert pretzel – a sweet and savory treat.

“The dessert pretzel is our Bavarian pretzel, but we coat it with cinnamon and sugar and cover it with icing,” deOliveira says.

Golf is the main attraction at this hidden gem, but this fun and delicious menu makes it a foodie destination in its own right.

“If you’re here for golf, having a nice food and drink selection really enhances the experience, and some people might come to eat, but decide it might be fun to swing a club and play a few games,” deOliveira says. “Our unique menu selections, as well as a unique golfing experience, definitely compliment each other.”

PrairieFire Golf & Grill is open Mon. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., Tues.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Fri.-Sat. to 11 p.m. Bay reservations can be booked online at prairiefiregolf.com.