When golf met tech25 February 2022
/ The new generation of driving ranges /
It all started with twin entrepreneurs Steven and Dave Jolliffe: golfing enthusiasts, the two would go to a driving range in London, but they felt it was the opposite of exciting. They felt that the experience could be livened up, while still allowing people to improve their skills at the same time. “That was really the invention behind it,” said former Topgolf CEO Randall Starr, “to create a fun, non-intimidating way to hit a golf ball but also to make it into a friendly competition.”
The way they did that was two-fold: through tech and through the social aspect. The patented technology, which uses microchips inside each ball, allows players to track their own ball and accurately score each shot based on the target it enters. The social aspect comes in the shape of high-end sports entertainment complexes, with climate-controlled hitting bays where up to six people can play together; here the game is paired with music, and with an outstanding food and beverage menu: “Every Topgolf has an energetic hum that you can feel right when you walk through the door,” says the company on its website.
Founded back in the early 2000s, Topgolf is not exactly a new player in 2022, but it can be credited with revolutionizing the golf experience, and especially the driving range experience. Theirs was the first example of social golf, and it is still going strong today. They currently manage over 70 venues in 5 countries, and at the beginning of 2021 they merged with Callaway Golf Company, a leader in the global golf equipment market, creating what was defined as “an unrivaled tech-enabled golf company delivering leading golf equipment, apparel and entertainment.”
And over the years the company has kept adding new advances. On the technology side, Topgolf venues today also offer Toptracer technology, which allows the player to see a real-time trace of their ball’s flight path, as well as insights into speed, distance, angle and accuracy. On the social side, the company launched the Topgolf Live Stadium Tour, which transforms iconic sports venues such the Fenway Park in Boston into pop-up golfing venues. The idea is the same as…
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