TopGolf...the future of practice

Check out the future of all driving ranges with this fabulous new concept...

Alex Bangert's picture
Martin Park
Sat, 3 Feb 2001
TopGolf...the future of practice

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After a miserable trip to my local driving range, beating balls with no particular meaning and feeling a little confused as to why I was out in mid January hitting marshmallow feeling golf balls into a distant quagmire, I wondered why on earth I subjected myself to such punishment! The reason is simple…golfers love to hit balls for the hell of it!

I am sure you have all been there, hitting cracked golf balls into some distant field, standing underneath what can only be described as a rickety old shed that is supposed to defend you from the wicked winter elements we call the British weather. Oh, and topped off with a 40 watt bulb to see where your ball landed!

But if that sounds all too familiar, take note that driving ranges like that are soon to become as thing of the past thanks to the technological wizardry of the guys and girls at TopGolf.

A totally New Concept

Wouldn’t it be so pleasant to be able to hit perfect tour quality golf balls to a range of targets with a purpose…and with the added benefit of being able play a game with your mates, know exactly how far you hit the ball with each club, in salubrious surroundings with a purpose built café, a fully stocked American Golf Discount shop and an indoor putting green to practice those important four footers on perfect greens?

Talk about asks a silly question!

So, where on earth would we have the opportunity to visit such a fantastic driving range, seemingly made in heaven? A PGA Tour practice ground? A European Tour practice ground? David Leadbetter’s Headquarters in Lake Nona? Butch Harmon’s house or Tiger’s back yard? Erm…none of the above!

Answer…Watford, yes Watford! That little town that is home to the Bees, ( A first Division Football team) Elton John and the Harlequin Shopping centre and what is commonly referred to as the dividing town between the North and South of England!

Just off the M25 in Bushey lies a revolutionary concept in the leisure industry. TopGolf (Target Oriented Play) deemed our Royal and Ancient game to be the lucky winner in this innovative twist to a simple ball and stick game that has been played since the 1500’s.

But now as we are firmly into the 21st Century, not even Old Tom Morris could have envisaged that his beloved game could now appeal to millions without even having to set foot on a golf course.

Lessons with Leadbetter staff

What we have here in the “South” is a technology-based computer golf game, where you actually use golf clubs and real Maxfli golf balls with a microchip inserted to them to help you keep track of how far you hit each ball and what score you are accumulating.

This new concept is destined to revolutionise the world of golf in the same way skittles was transformed by technology into Ten Pin Bowling. And what is more, it is a British invention too. At last we have something that the Yanks don’t have!

The world’s first TopGolf Game Centre opened in Watford last November and the Centre provides the opportunity to play the game of TopGolf with real Maxfli XS Tour golf balls, practice putting, chipping and driving, and for those of you who wish to improve, or just learn, there is an onsite David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

TopGolf is a refreshing addition to the UK leisure industry with golf as its outlet and in years to come, it will undoubtedly become as popular as the aforesaid Ten Pin Bowling and trips to the cinema.

There are no dress codes, no membership committee and no hefty joining fees, all you have to do is turn up and you can play, once you have joined the membership…and you don’t need a handicap or referral letter from the aloof secretary or Club Captain either!

44 Bays to choose from

There are two ways of approaching the TopGolf driving range. For the keen golfer who likes to practice, it is an ideal place to get to know your exact yardages with each club as you fire each ball out towards the ten-acre all-weather range.

The other way is to complement your practice by playing the game itself…much more fun, even to a 2-handicap like me!

There are 11 target greens, ranging from 25 to 240 yards and depending on which one you aim at, depends on the amount of points you accumulate. Obviously, if you go out with your driver at the 240-yard green, and hit it, you get more points. But with so many other options available at the shorter distance greens and with bonus points for accuracy, tactics come into play too!

Even for the scratch handicap golfer or Professional, playing the actual game and trying to accumulate as many points as possible is highly addictive. Even the Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance found it addictive as it took him three goes, or 60 balls, before his agent had to drag him kicking and screaming off the range!

“It’s probably the most exiting development in golf”. Said Torrance of the new concept.

Each target green is divided into “zones” from the edge of the green to the hole itself, with each “zone” being worth a different score, the closer to the hole, the more the points. The points are displayed on a screen in each bay and players are all given a print out of their score at the end of the game.

So how does the computer know what you have scored? The answer lies in the revolutionary golf ball that the technical guys at Maxfli developed.

This is all made possible by a tiny microchip in every ball, allowing each one to be tracked. The technology also means that each ball can be allocated to individual players or teams in order to know exactly which ball is in play at any time. Patented as the I.D. BALL™ SYSTEM, the technology used is a world first and has been developed over the past three years.

As soon as you go to the ball machine and press your membership smart card full of credits on to the front of it, the balls that come out will bear your identity, so don’t get any ideas of pinching them, because they will know the address to send the boys around to collect them back!

As soon as your ball finds a target, you are allocated a set number of points and the information is transferred to your computer screen above your head in the bay and with it registers the exact distance and the score of that particular shot.

Get in the Zone!

And just like the real game, accuracy is rewarded with extra points, so the better, or luckier player you are, the more points you get!

The technology wizards reckon that Par is around 271 points from 20 balls in each game. But you will have to play like a scratch handicap to get that score…or just be plain lucky…bit like the real thing then eh?

Addiction to this game is of “crack” proportions and once you have mastered how to play, I guarantee you will be yearning for more!

For those of you who would like to compete with your mates, after three games, the computer awards you a TopGolf Handicap, which allows you to compete with players of any standard…just like the real thing again!

And yet again, just like the real thing, you play a great shot, it gets an unlucky bounce and misses the target…it’s called the ‘rub of the green’…I love it…and I am off for another TopGolf “fix” very soon!

TopGolf Centre
Bushey Mill Lane
Watford
Hertfordshire
WD24 7AB
TopGolf Website

Tel: 01923 222045

Directions: From the M1 junction 5, take the A4008 South towards Watford, Go right at the first roundabout into Colonial Way. At the next roundabout go right into Radlett Road and first right into Bushey Mill Lane.

How To Play TopGolf

Before you start all players need a membership card, which allows the Maxfli balls to be programmed.

Using your card, collect the balls from the ball dispenser and go to one of the 44 bays, which can accommodate up to five players at a time.

Place the ball onto the mat and begin the game.

Choose one of the 11 targets – the distance and points for each of the targets are displayed in the bay.

Tee off, aiming at the chosen target.

Instant feedback will be given to the individual screen in the bay.

At the end of each 20 ball game, final scores are displayed on the screen – a printout is also available to take away.

After 3 games, a TopGolf handicap is calculated, allowing you to compete with players of different standards.

The TopGolf computer will remember your score for every shot you make, so you can monitor your progress over time.

TopGolfFacts

Each game consists of 20 Maxfli XS Tour golf balls.

Extensive flight-testing in the USA proves that the microchip does not affect the ball performance in any way.

A game of TopGolf takes about 10 minutes to play per person.

Free club hire is provided and advice is on hand.

You can use TopGolf just to practice golf with the added benefit of instant feedback in your bay.

How to Join

To play TopGolf™, you first need to become a member. There are three types of membership:

Standard Membership
To become a standard member you only need to buy £5.00 worth of credits, allowing you to play 2 games of TopGolf. This also gives you membership of the TopGolf Game Centre for a year and a membership card with the embedded microchip. This membership can be upgraded at any time.

Executive Membership

Annual fee £50 (currently £25 half price special offer in place)
Benefits

8 free credits to play TopGolf and 9 hole putting course

Exclusive advance bay booking facility

£25 Discount voucher off selected products at the American Golf Discount Centre

Free lesson with DLGA when a course of 6 lessons is booked

Entry to regular prize competitions
PLUS for a limited period

20 FREE games of putting

FREE 15 minute lesson with a DLGA instructor

Family Membership
Annual fee £100 (currently £50 half price special offer in place)

Benefits

Offers Executive Membership benefits for 2 adults and 2 under 16s. Additional children may be added for £5 each.

£10 voucher off children’s parties at TopGolf

How much does TopGolf cost?
A game of TopGolf costs on average £2.60, although costs will vary depending on the time of day and number of game credits purchased.

TopGolf Game Credit System
Balls are purchased using a game credits system, whereby players can buy credits for their membership cards at reception.

The number of credits required varies, depending whether you play during the off peak or peak period.

TopGolf Games
The TopGolf game is suitable for any level of skill and can be played with up to a maximum of five players. In Spring 2001, a number of different games will be introduced to add new excitement and variety to the TopGolf experience. After a game or a series of games, you can request a printout for your bay, showing the relevant information for all players.

TopGolf has been devised to give players a variety of different game scenarios, so they will never tire of stepping onto the tee; there is something for everyone:

Advance Bay Booking
Executive and Family members are entitled to book a bay at TopGolf in advance, so members can turn up and play, being assured of having a bay reserved. Members can book in person or by telephoning the Centre.

TopGolf Gift Vouchers
A unique and unusual gift for any occasion. TopGolf gift vouchers can be used to purchase Membership, game credits and lessons with David Leadbetter Golf Academy. £5, £10 and £25 vouchers are available from the Centre.

Children’s Parties at TopGolf Game Centre
What better place for a budding golfers birthday party. For an original and new venue for a child’s birthday party, the TopGolf Game Centre offers fun and excitement plus an all-inclusive package to make your life easier too! Prices start at £10 per child.

Group and Corporate Events
For anyone looking for an original venue for a group of friends, family or colleagues, TopGolf can produce a tailored package to suit any party needs. TopGolf offer a number of options for companies. Corporate membership, incentive and client events and Christmas parties are just a few of the possibilities.

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