As anyone who has ever witnessed me play golf would attest, I am not good at golf. As soon as I go to a course which hasn’t got giant fiberglass animals on it, I am lost. I spend so much time in the sand trap that I could bill ExxonMobil for overtime, and I’ve heard faint Mandarin spoken through some of the divots I’ve made.
That’s why I love driving ranges. At those a hack like me can fire balls away with total abandon, just launch them over the horizon without worrying about technicalities like form, par, and skill. I’m particularly excited about the grand opening of Topgolf this fall, the construction of which has loomed intriguingly just north of downtown Minneapolis for months now.
Topgolf began in England in 2000, where they perfected the art of the driving range to make the best use of their limited space. In 2005 they expanded to America, as the British have a habit of doing, and now they have more than 40 venues worldwide. Minneapolis will soon become the newest jewel in their crown.
Topgolf’s greatest amenity lies in their technology. Each of their golf balls contains a microchip, and their green’s targets are sensitive to them. Whenever you hit a ball, its impact will register on a big computer screen in your bay. For pros, this means relegating the distance finders to the basement next to their Ping Doc putters and outgrown plus fours. For amateurs, this means immediate and colorful feedback no matter how horribly they’ve sliced their drives.
This technology makes a variety of games available which you would never find at a conventional driving range. In Quick 9, for example, a player gets three shots at the furthest, middle, and nearest targets as a way of simulating a rapid succession of par threes. It’s the best way to play a quick game without a long drive (in a car). Several other modes of play utilize Topgolf’s science to challenge players’ chipping and driving skills, as well as their sportsmanship and patience in a way that only golf can do.
Topgolf offers all the comforts of the clubhouse as well. Here you can enjoy a chef-driven menu along with a full bar while you discuss golf things with your friends, spoil your family, or ostentatiously helm the seat of your company before your impressed and somewhat jealous employees. The requisite wings and burgers are there, as are brunch foods, kid foods, juicy cocktails, and Topgolf’s signature “mushi,” a Mexican-Japanese fusion treat.
Topgolf has answered the golf-loving Minneapolitan’s wish for a land of milk and honey. If you’ve any facility with an iron, or just want a nearby and idyllic getaway from the throngs of rush hour, you had better go there. Listen for the sounds of wedge on ground, followed by saucy words which can’t be printed in a magazine, and you will know that I am there as well. Please come up and give me pointers. That always calms me greatly.
By David Scheller