Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TopGolf Review

I first found out about TopGolf in checking out a profile at The Golf Space, and soon thereafter I overheard some people at work talking about it. It seemed almost like a mystical, magical place, where the ground knew who just hit that golf shot that landed next to the target.
Well, the end result is exactly that, but the method is a lot more straightforward, and one of the cooler uses of technology I've seen in some time.
It starts at the factory. Maxfli embeds microchips into Top Flite golf balls as part of the manufacturing process. These chips send out a unique signal that can be sensed outside the ball. You plug your TopGolf card into the machine when you get balls, and the machine slowly drops one ball at a time into your basket. The reason it's a slower process than at the normal driving range is that as it gives you the ball it also registers that particular ball as belonging to you.
You then go to the mats, and before you hit each ball you run it through another sensor. A video screen tells you what your target is, or which game you're playing with your buddies. You hit your ball towards graduated targets with a handful of different point categories depending on how close to center you hit, and then you get points based on how well you do. Think a "closest to the flag" contest at the range, but without the arguing. The further away the target is the more points you get for hitting it.
The games you can play can be wide open where you just gather as many points as possible, or it can direct you to specific targets depending on your skill level. Up to five players can participate in any game at any time.
All the mats are shaded, which is huge in Dallas, and there are waitresses who are very adept at bringing out food and buckets of cold beer and other libations of your choosing. The bar inside has many electronic televisions, and there are golf instructors available.
The cost is $3.50 for 20 balls, which is a bit high but still very reasonable for an urban driving range in the Dallas area. The Dallas location is fully lit and open until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. There are three locations in the UK, and three in the US (Dallas, Chicago, Washington DC).
If you like golf and you live in or you visit one of these places, I highly recommend you stop by. The staff will explain everything to you, and you'll find the time just run away from you.

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