ALPHARETTA, GA. – TopGolf will make golf-crazy North Fulton its first Georgia location and its 11th facility overall for a 65,000-square-foot golf and entertainment center located at 1050 Westside Parkway. Who says hitting balls on the driving range has to be dull?
But a driving range is where the TopGolf story started in Texas, where two brothers were practicing their swings. The year was 2000. The Jolliffe brothers were getting bored so they started thinking how they could enliven the range experience and still improve their golf game.
What if you could bring the wife and family along? If they were entertained, golfers could hit longer guilt-free. That brainstorming session led to the creation of TopGolf in 2000.
Adrienne Browne, senior communications manager for TopGolf, said The Jollifes envisioned a new kind of golf experience that combines competition with entertainment. TopGolf wants to be your favorite sports bar and family hangout with an emphasis on golf.
Players hit golf balls with a microchip inside at targets on an outfield. The microchips tell a computer distance and accuracy of each shot. Golf pros walk up the tee line offering tips to golfers in climate-controlled hitting bays. TopGolf is open day and night any time of year.
“Golfers drive at what looks like a larger-than-life outdoor dartboard – but they are holes at varying distances. And to instill a little friendly rivalry, the high-tech balls instantly score each shot’s accuracy and distance to each target,” Browne said.
The outfield has 11 target holes of varying distances from 20 yards to 240 yards. Every section of every target has a reader that detects the microchip in the golf ball. That reader computes the golfer’s score based on the accuracy and distance of the shot and then sends the score to the bay screen. No pencil and paper is needed to keep score in this game, and patrons get a printout.
The golfers hit from climate-controlled bays that have infrared heaters when it is cool and water misters when it’s warm. Seating for six makes it a social outing for those hitting some balls or who just want to watch and eat and drink.
“We have six different scored games, there are tournaments and leagues.”
Today, TopGolf has evolved into a “full blown” entertainment facility, she said. With some 1.5 million visitors annually, it has struck a chord with the golfing public. Half the visitors describe themselves as non-golfers.
“We have a full-service restaurant and bar with live music. There are lots of other games such as pool, shuffleboard and even X-Box games. So it is a very family friendly place,” Browne said. “We have summer camps for kids. People just love to come here.”
The company chose Alpharetta because it is a fast-growing area with a lot of corporate headquarters.
“Alpharetta is one of the main corporate and technology centers in the Southeast, so TopGolf will fit right into the city’s culture with our entertaining, high-tech golf experience,” said TopGolf Chief Development Officer Randy Starr. “We are thrilled to partner with such a fast-developing and forward-thinking city as Alpharetta for our first facility in Georgia.”
Alpharetta Economic Development Director Peter Tokar said the city is pleased TopGolf has chosen Alpharetta for its new state-of-the-art facility.
“The new high-tech driving range and recreational facility is a perfect complement to both the community and lifestyle of Alpharetta residents, as well as the technology-driven business community,” said Tokar.
The economic impact in the community is expected to create hundreds of jobs at the location and serve as an anchor tenant that tends to attract other popular franchises to the area. In fact, its economic output in Alpharetta alone is expected to exceed $264.5 million over a 10-year-period, according to a third-party audit.
Browne agreed the city was a great fit for a TopGolf facility.
“It’s perfect because we have a lot of corporate events. It is a high-traffic area with the demographics that we need,” Browne said. “The Atlanta market is one we want to be in. It has a lot of sports teams, sports fans and that is what we look for.”
Browne said the great appeal of TopGolf is that it is geared for any skill level, whether it is someone coming in for the first time using free loaner clubs or the skilled golfer who brings his own and is looking to improve his game.