The first thing you learn when playing at a TopGolf location is that its not traditional golf where you play 18 holes and you keep score by counting birdies, pars and — you hope — not too many bogeys.
TopGolf, based in Dallas, has 17 locations in the U.S.; so far none in Canada. TopGolf is trying to change the game of golf and is integrating Internet of Things solutions into its locations to deliver a better overall golfing experience.
TopGolf is more like target golf. It looks like you are at a driving range but that’s where the comparison ends. TopGolf has stacked lounges that feel more like you are at a corporate box watching a baseball or football game. In front of the player are round targets. You hit your golf ball off a tee and try to land them in those targets. The more targets you hit the better your score. You can play by yourself or with friends.
All the golf balls are embedded with RFID chips. After you hit one of them — hopefully straight down the fairway and into the middle of the target you aimed at — sensors inside the target register your score. This system, build in conjunction with Dell EMC, provides TopGolf patrons with real-time scores.
And, what makes TopGolf different than real golf is you get instant gratification instead of looking out in the horizon to see if your ball made it safely on the green or in the bunker like in real golf.
TopGolf was the brainchild of Jolliffe brothers – Steve and David. The Jolliffe’s started on a typical driving range back in 2000. The brothers found the experience to be boring and they wanted to liven things up, while also sharpen the skills of golfers. The other thought they had was pinpointing exactly where the ball lands and instantly informing the player of the location. That’s where IoT comes in. In real golf, finding your ball can become an arduous task.
With TopGolf, the Jolliffe’s created an environment that brings instant data to the player. Each shot is tracked and the player knows exactly how far he or she hit the ball. Another important aspect to TopGolf is providing a fun experience while people wait their turn with music, drinks and food.
And, unlike real golf which can take up more than six hours of your time, TopGolf can be a fun one hour experience or more. Its all up to the player.
TopGolf says that more than eight million people come at least once to their locations per year. The average length of play is roughly two hours. The average group is similar to golf at four people. The gender breakdown is 68 per cent male; 32 per cent female.
One of the more interesting stats is that 37 per cent of customers are non-golfers.