Golf Gets Interactive
Three stories high, 102 hitting bays, a full-service bar with nothing but sports on, and a steady stream of solid people watching. Is this an accurate description of the ESPY Awards on steroids? Or billionaire’s private man cave?
No, it’s the newest interactive sporting attraction to touch down in Austin, TopGolf. Located in an immaculate 65,000 square foot facility near The Domain, TopGolf Austin is the sixth U.S. location for the company that started in the United Kingdom, and the fourth location in Texas. The Austin location opened this month and has already become a popular spot for golfers, non-golfers and corporations alike.
“Our British founders who started this back in 2000 had a vision to put more fun into a driving range,” said TopGolf Marketing Manager Meghan Hanna. “The driving range, combined with our food and full bar is tantamount to our company position of Flat Out Fun.”
TopGolf is more than just your regular driving range. Golfers can compete against each other not only in the regular Happy Gilmore-style long drive competition (called TopDrive), but also through eight different games, ranging from TopChip to TopShot (hitting targets at four consecutive distances), to TopPressure, which tests a golfer’s accuracy.
With 11 targets, ranging from a putting distance of 20 yards, to the farthest target at 240 yards, there is a challenge for everyone. Even better, the targets are illuminated at night, making for a nice little view as you’re teeing off.
Not a golfer? Join the crowd, says Hanna. “While we have three floors of driving ranges, and golf on many of the TVs, 70 percent of our clientele are not golfers.”
Indeed, if a customer isn’t all that jazzed about showing off his less-than-stellar putting skills to his colleagues, he can always sit back and enjoy a 90 percent scratch kitchen with premium burgers prepared by a team of executive chefs, among them Chef Alan Paryzeck, who has cooked for the last three Presidents of the United States. In addition to burgers, flatbreads (five of them!), the roasted nuts were a delectable, and addictive treat as well.
For those who dread the links, never fear: TopGolf has a solution for you. In June, TopGolf will start hosting classes taught by PGA professionals similar to the ones taught in other locations. In the meantime, there are plenty of scratch golfers who are more than willing to take two minutes and help your swing so you don’t end up hitting the person three bays down, like I almost did.
As the newest location, TopGolf Austin has its perks. Unlike other driving ranges (and other TopGolf locations!) where you have to carry around large buckets of balls, the Austin location has a ball dispenser technology, where all you have to do is flash your club on a circular dot, and voila! The club registers on a microchip and a ball rolls out. In addition, many of the displays in each of the hitting bays are bigger as well.
The process is simple to sign up for a tee time. Sign up online if you have a TopGolf card, or come in person and reserve a tee time. For regular hours (before 6 p.m.) the cost is $20 per hour, with unlimited balls as you play. For premium hours, which is anything after 6 p.m. (noon on Saturdays and Sundays), the cost is $40 per hour.
TopGolf is a welcome addition to the Austin sporting and entertainment scene. Whether it breeds the next Tiger Woods is yet to be seen, but TopGolf Austin is already a prime place for sports and socializing.