Toptracer, the world’s leading ball tracking technology, may be familiar to most through its exposure tracing the shots of the world’s best golfers in the biggest events on TV. Now there is growing momentum behind Toptracer Range, which brings the Tour player experience to golfers around the world.
GBN caught up with President of Toptracer Range, Ben Sharpe and Toptracer Europe General Manager, Paul Williams, to learn more about the product and their ambitious plans for developing the brand.
What is Toptracer Range?
BS: Toptracer tracks the shots of the best players in the world week-in, week-out on the PGA Tour and European Tour and now the same technology is available in driving ranges all over the world. The experience is simple and easy to use; two cameras mounted above the bays capture data on every shot and relay it – via the image analysis software – onto a display unit that shows guests feedback and stats in whatever game mode is selected. Toptracer Range enables driving ranges to offer the ball flight tracking seen on TV, with a variety of ball data and interactive game modes.
What audience does Toptracer appeal to?
PW: One of the best things about the technology is its universal appeal. It attracts the most devoted golfer and the beginner at the same time, giving families and friends the chance to get together in a fun and interactive environment. It’s an excellent way to introduce children or non-golfers to the game in a low-pressure, fun environment. Increasing the gamification of golf through our game modes allows golf facilities to attract leisure consumers to what has traditionally been just a practice ground. With Toptracer Range installed, a venue can boast both an entertainment product and an enhanced practice ground for serious golfers.
What game modes can you play?
PW: Avid golfers are increasingly reliant on knowing their stats these days which they can find out and hone using the Launch Monitor and What’s In My Bag games. Guests can use the Toptracer Range Community app to link their personal profiles to their visit and return to stored information over time. On the other hand, there are more game-based modes like Closest To Pin and Longest Drive which can be very social and scalable to any age or ability.
BS: Toptracer Range allows users to experience some of the world’s most famous golf courses right from the comfort of their own bay. We’ve recently added Pebble Beach to the portfolio of courses which are available to play in the Virtual Golf mode. Players can enjoy their virtual experience singularly, or as a group with a bit of friendly competition thanks to the continual progression of the software. Our technical innovation team is always looking at improvements and the functionality that we are moving towards will allow players to compete against anyone on our global leaderboards.
What are some of the other benefits of installing Toptracer Range?
BS: Adding Toptracer Range to a facility has proved to be successful in driving increased footfall which, in turn, increases commercial opportunities in other areas such as retail and food and beverage sales. From speaking to retailers such as American Golf we know that they like to see our systems installed in the ranges that they are present in as they see a marked increase in sales. Toptracer Range brings people into the game and, for retailers, beginners are a highly lucrative market.
PW: This software can uplift the coaching a range will be able to offer, at the same time as encouraging more golfers to keep coming back and taking lessons. Toptracer Range is a great tool to use before, during or after a lesson, to demonstrate a teaching point, check back on progress or maintain the new skills a golfer has learnt. From a fitting standpoint it can be hugely beneficial as the system captures data on every ball as well as comparative data between clubs. I was a coaching PGA professional for 13 years and if this technology had been in place when I was coaching I would have loved it. Especially the ability to encourage random practice and being able to visually demonstrate a student’s ball flight characteristics and tendencies.
What’s included and how much does it cost?
BS: Toptracer Range is available for an affordable monthly fee, with no upfront payment. Facilities lease the equipment which includes camera sensors, hardware and displays. Along with the equipment comes the software, free installation, unlimited maintenance and marketing support, and an account manager – all within the same price. This isn’t a one size fits all kind of product, every package differs depending on the requirements of each range, for example in a two-tier driving range only one set of cameras is required to cover both floors so this factors
into the monthly price.
PW: The investment into infrastructure required prior to installation will depend entirely on what is already in place. To run the system, all that is needed are power outlets and a data connection installed between the servers, camera and screens. Depending on what infrastructure a range has in place, there could be minimal costs at the outset.
What driving ranges can take Toptracer Range?
PW: Toptracer Range appeals to any golf range, it’s not just for the biggest and best but for any ambitious range or golf facility. The team builds a bespoke package for each driving range, specific to their needs and demands. For example, Wellsgreen Golf Range in Fife converted seven of its bays to Toptracer Range while The Golf Club in Guernsey has 14 bays, all of which now have Toptracer Range. These might be smaller operations, but it goes right up to World of Golf in New Malden, London, which has all 51 of its bays covered with Toptracer Range technology. We’ve seen success with ranges that go straight to full coverage, as well as those which have dipped their toe in to start and have expanded to additional systems.
How do you see this product growing?
BS: Ball tracking has become an essential part of the television experience for 21st Century viewers and incorporating this technology into a driving range helps transform it into an enticing entertainment experience. Since the beginning of this year, we’ve tripled our global presence and we’re continuing to see more and more ranges around the world adopt Toptracer Range and successfully integrate it in their business model.
We are growing fast in the USA and Europe but have opened our first range in South Korea and have another coming soon in Australia which demonstrates the global impact of this product. I see a genuine opportunity to grow the game and introduce golf to a new audience with a product that lives up to its reputation and delivers an extraordinary entertainment experience.
Ben and Paul, thank you very much
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