IMG has today signed a world-wide deal giving the international sports marketing and management group the rights to license TopGolf – the revolutionary new golf practice and leisure facility, invented and patented by World Golf Systems.
Mark McCormack, chairman and chief executive of IMG said: “TopGolf is a world first and is the future of golf driving ranges. We are proud to be associated with such a unique concept in the game of golf.”
TopGolf is a state-of-the-art practice facility where balls containing tiny microchips are hit from driving bays onto a 250 metre long outfield. The microchip relays the distance and accuracy of each shot to the player’s screen in each bay. The result is a fun, fast moving golf game which appeals to all ages and abilities of golfers and non-golfers alike.
The first TopGolf site was launched in November 2000 in Watford, United Kingdom, and has enjoyed high levels of demand. In just nine months 29,000 people have become members of the centre, many of whom are completely new to golf.
Initial expansion will focus on the USA, South East Asia and Japan, although strong interest has also been shown from the Middle East, Australia and Europe.
Michael Pask, project leader and international vice president at IMG, said: “TopGolf will broaden the appeal of golf globally. In this respect it can be likened to the revolution that occurred when technology transformed skittles into tenpin bowling.”
World Golf Systems, a British company based in Middlesex, has spent three years and £3 million developing the technology to enable a microchip to be placed inside a golf ball. The first TopGolf Game Centre in Watford cost a further £3 million to construct, yet is already proving to be a financial success.
On average customers pay £2.40 to tee off 20 times with Maxfli XS Tour golf balls. Each ball contains a microchip that responds to sensors in the green sized targets to register where the ball lands. There are eleven targets strategically arranged on a 10 acre outfield with the nearest at 25 metres and the furthest at 220 metres. Players can use the system to practice or play a competitive game with up to five players in each bay.
Peter Allport, managing director of TopGolf said: “We have been delighted by the success of our first TopGolf Game Centre and are looking forward to building our brand internationally. IMG is a truly global company and we believe their established contacts and marketing expertise will prove invaluable.”
World Golf Systems will retain control of the expansion programme for TopGolf in the UK and Ireland with a further five centres set to open in the next two years.
European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance has, from the outset, endorsed TopGolf and is delighted to hear of World Golf System’s expansion plans. He commented, “I am not at all surprised by the success of TopGolf as I was hooked from my first game.”