Topgolf – Just What Golf Needs
By R.J. Smiley
Little has changed at the driving range for the last 25 or 30 years.
As a lifetime golfer, the Psychic has spent his share of time on the practice range. In his younger days he had a shag-bag. His shag-bag was a beat up old leather bag with a zipper that once worked, at the top. Both leather handles were serviceable. As a teenager and even during college when he had nothing better to do, the Psychic would find an open area usually at the golf course and hit his balls marked with two black Xs.
As the years passed the shag-bag seemed to just disappear as the Psychic and other golfers rented a bucket or two of balls at the golf course practice ranges or a driving range.
The Psychic read with interest an article about Topgolf in the latest issue of his favorite golf magazine. Topgolf, a millennia’s answer to a golf practice range complete with computerized golf balls and space-aged targets, was the hottest thing in the golf business. With the combination of golf, trendy food and exotic alcoholic beverages, Topgolf had created an entertainment experience centered on a shag-bag. When the Psychic read that these Topgolf complexes draw an average of 450,000 patrons per year, he was shocked. The pro at his local muni was always talking about the golf rounds being down. “In the heydays of golf we would have 40,000+ rounds in a year when the weatherman cooperated,” the pro said. “Today we are budgeting for 30,000 rounds, but seldom get that number of players.”
The Psychic did the quick math. One Topgolf facility would attract as many customers as 15 average golf courses in a year.
With those incredible numbers still spinning in his head, the Psychic retreated to his study. As he placed his worn turban on his balding crown, he uncovered his third eye, the one that allows him to see clearly see into the future.
The scene from deep within the glowing globe is a smokey, dimly lit, bowling alley. Patrons are all men smoking, drinking beer and gambling. Hard working boys are replacing the pins into the pin-setting machine. Then suddenly the smoke begins to clears. The scene is still a bowling alley, but the patrons and the atmosphere have changed. Kids are having a birthday party, eating pizza and bowling. Lights are flashing; the alleys have bumpers in the gutters to kick the balls down the alley. There is a festive atmosphere. Kids are having a really good time. THEY ARE ALSO LEARNING TO BOWL!!
Once again the scene within the magic marble changes. It is a Topgolf facility of the future. Statistics have proven that over 20% of Topgolf’s customers are non-golfers. Topgolf understands that golf is hard to learn. Topgolf executives have invested millions in the latest software technology to teach new golfers and golfers who want to improve to play better. Instead of copying bowling alleys and placing bumpers in the gutters, Topgolf has used smartphone and Bluetooth technology to instruct golfers. With a question mark on his face, the crystal ball shifts scenes once again. This time to something the Psychic can understand. The Psychic remembers his kids learning their ABC’s watching cartoons on Saturday morning. Watching Sesame Street kids was entertaining; learning their ABC’s was just a byproduct.
The Psychic nods his head in approval, “Just what the golf industry needs!”
Millennia’s don’t want to stand at a practice range with a golf pro critiquing their every move just to be able to hit a little white ball better. They want to enjoy the company of others in a modern entertainment complex while they are guided to improvement techniques through their smart phones.
As the explosion of Topgolf facilities continues worldwide, the golf industry will gain players, equipment sales and club memberships.