by Kurt Nagl
New venue to open before end of year
Features 65,000-square-foot entertainment complex and driving range
Cost starts at $25 per hour for up to six people
Players will tee it up from the three-tiered hitting bays by the end of the year, the Dallas-based company promises. An exact date will be announced next week, said spokeswoman Morgan Wallace. Construction for the $12.5 million project started in January.
The new entrant into the local golf and entertainment market aims to bring a high-tech, glitzy twist to a sedate game at a time when golf is broadly declining in popularity.
“This is unbelievable,” said Luke Schuett, of Grand Blanc, as he tried out the range Wednesday. “It’s a cool concept that I think will do well here.”
Located at I-75 and Joslyn Road, the complex’s driving range backs up to the freeway with towering poles and netting. A total of 102 climate-controlled hitting bays promise comfortable play year-round, while 270 big-screen TVs, food and alcohol will keep nongolfers entertained. There’s also 3,000 square feet of event space.
The driving range isn’t your typical empty field marked with a handful of flags. It stretches 205 yards and is surrounded by 175-foot-tall netting. Throughout the range, there are circular targets in the ground designed as dart board-like greens that players aim at and earn points depending on where the balls land. Two massive video boards are set up at the back of the range to play anything from football games to music videos.
Each ball has a microchip that tracks location and distance, with results displayed on screens at each bay. Players take turns playing one of nine different games in a sequence akin to bowling.
Players are charged hourly, and the cost depends on time of day. It is $25 total per hour to rent a hitting bay from 9 a.m. to noon for up to six players. The cost is $35 from noon to 5 p.m. and $45 from 5 p.m. until the venue closes, usually midnight or 1 a.m. Hours have not been finalized.
There is also a “fast pass” system during busier times that allows groups to jump to the front of a line for a bay by paying more money. In addition, several private bays can be rented out for parties, business meetings or other events.
Inside, there is private dining space and a full bar with nine large-screen televisions and a dozen beers on tap, including offerings from Bell’s Brewery and Founders Brewing Co.
Topgolf enters the market during a general decline in the popularity of golf around the country. In Michigan — a destination for the sport which boasts some of the highest-ranking courses in the country — a lack of business has forced scores of courses to close. At the same time, “concept venues” — think gimmicks like fowling and axe throwing — are flourishing. Topgolf is marketing itself to both golfers and those seeking new, unusual experiences.