Where golf and entertainment meet
|A Canoe Kid hits driver at TopGolf. Photos by Melissa Lowrie|
By Melissa Lowrie
I may have found the apex of my son’s fun-chart at TopGolf.
“Mooooom, can we please stay?”
This question posed at the end of an outing equals success in my book.
A privately-owned company of entertainment complexes, TopGolf has a 14-year operating history in the U.K. and U.S. The idea hatched between two English brothers on a driving range has blossomed into a creative entertainment powerhouse. The kicker, and perhaps the key to success: The idea appeals to golfers and non-golfers alike.
The concept is simple … sort of. Basically, it’s a three-tiered driving range with more than 100 bays for hitting balls. Add microchipped golf balls, huge targets and computer screens at every bay (pushing it above your average range). A variety of games are available from chipping, to long drives, to accuracy. An attentive wait staff takes care of food and beverage requests.
|Three levels of bays accommodate plenty of guests.|
By the way, this isn’t a hot dog and draft Budweiser situation. Think more like spinach and goat cheese salad with flatbread and craft beers. Or ribs and wings with a mango margarita. You get the picture.
That said, this place is family-friendly. We visited on a Friday afternoon and played among work groups, families and actual golfers there to practice.
|Clubs for men and women are available at each bay.|
Players pay by the hour, and the rates change depending on the time of day. In the afternoon, we paid $25 per hour, per person. The hour flew by for us. Depending on the number of players and how fast you are determines how many games you’ll play within your designated time.
We started with TopGolf. Per the website, it’s the signature game where “players score points by hitting balls (assigned using our microchip technology) into any target. The more accurate your shot and the farther the distance, the more points you earn.”
Balls are hit off mats onto a very forgiving and bouncy green surface. Balls that weren’t well-struck still had a chance at rolling to a target for points. There are 11 targets of various distances ranging from 20 to 240 yards. Every target has a reader that detects your ball then flashes the distance on your screen. It’s extremely cool and fun.
There’s no need to bring clubs, there are men’s and women’s clubs at every bay. Junior sets are available too, we got ours when we paid. Visitors are welcome to bring their own sticks if they wish (but you aren’t competing in the U.S. Open, so it’s OK to use rentals for a day).
With 2.7 million visitors worldwide in 2013 and a list of “coming soon” cities, TopGolf is rapidly expanding. The Alpharetta location opened about two years ago and the Atlanta Midtown TopGolf will open soon.
The place was crawling with staff and felt shiny and new even though it’s coming up on it’s two year anniversary. I asked the guy at the front desk if people come to have fun or actually prac-tice. He said it was a pretty even mix. I’m sure that probably changes on Saturday nights.
About an hour from Big Canoe, this is a fun outing for families. The games are fun and easy, so the non-golfers shouldn’t be intimidated. If they are, sit and enjoy watching your kids or grand-children vie for the most points. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the X-box 360 and foosball table on the top floor.
|No need to guess, the computer tallies distances and who’s winning.||A touchscreen keeps track of distances and points.|
The bays are heated in the winter and there are fans and misters in the summer; and they are all covered, so weather isn’t an issue. Check out the website for hours and additional information: topgolf.com.
If you can’t get to Alpharetta TopGolf, enjoy another adventure with your Canoe Kids. Whatever you do, have a great time.