The TopGolf Game Centre, to be created in Watford, Hertfordshire, has at is heart ‘TopGolf’, a new golf based game, played with premium Maxfli golf balls containing a small microchip. Developed and tested by World Golf Systems over the past three years, the ‘ID BALLS’ can be allocated to individual players and through the groundbreaking application of tracking technology, can be identified when they land on one of eleven ‘ID BALL TARGET GREENS’. These are strategically arranged on a ten acre ‘Sportexe’ artificial turf outfield.
TopGolf is not a virtual golf game, it is played with real golf clubs, balls and tees. It has been created to offer a new way of practising and developing golf skills for experienced golfers and enthusiastic amateurs as well as providing a new way of spending fun leisure time for groups of family, friends and colleagues.
Visitors to the TopGolf Game Centre can choose to practice and monitor their distance and accuracy or play a game for up to five players with scores shown on a screen in individual driving bays.
TopGolf Game Centres will have the atmosphere of a modern health club and will be membership based with an initial joining fee redeemable in games. A game of TopGolf will cost on average £2.60, although costs will vary depending on the time of day and number of game credits purchased.
The TopGolf Game Centre at Watford is being actively promoted as a leisure destination for people of all ages. It will have extended opening hours (7am-11pm) and will comprise two tiers of 40 golf driving bays, an indoor putting arena plus retail and refreshment outlets.
“We believe that TopGolf will broaden the appeal of golf and the way that it is viewed in the UK and make it accessible to a wider range of people”, says Peter Allport, ex commercial director at Rank Holidays and managing director of TopGolf. “While increasingly popular as a spectator sport, the current cost of buying equipment and the barriers to joining some clubs do tend to keep many people – especially women and young people – out of the game. We believe that our patented technology will change golf driving ranges in the same way that skittles was transformed by technology into Ten Pin Bowling. It offers a way to play and practice golf in a contemporary leisure environment that appeals to serious golfers, first-timers and, of course, families looking to spend some fun leisure time together.”
Traditional golf ranges have often been accused of using ageing, poor equipment but World Golf Systems has a number of partners onboard to ensure that its visitors are using only the best. The ID BALLS look the same, fly the same and play the same as any other premium ball; free clubs are supplied and the sophisticated computer technology at the centre has been developed in association with Compaq.
American Golf Discount will run the retail outlet in the TopGolf Game Centre and a partnership with the IMG Group will see an extensive tuition programme available through the internationally renowned David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
Michael Pask, head of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy for Europe and International Vice President of IMG comments, “DLGA is constantly looking for opportunities to deliver its first class, professional product to a wider audience. As such, we are delighted to be part of this exciting new venture. Anything that seeks to open golf to a wider audience world-wide has to be good for the game.”
World Golf Systems was founded by brothers Steve and Dave Jolliffe and Geoff Emmerson and is chaired by ex-MEPC chairman James Tuckey. By the time the first TopGolf Game Centre opens in Watford, Hertfordshire at the end of October 2000, more than £6m will have been invested.
A further 42 sites have been looked at for development in the UK and there is already strong interest for this new concept in keen golfing nations such as the US and Japan. TopGolf will be developed into a global brand and future TopGolf Game Centres will be run as franchised operations.