By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
December 26, 2016: Topgolf calls itself the "ultimate in golf, games, food and fun," and even that is an understatement.
Topgolf is a sports-entertainment destination that launched in the U.K. in 2000 by brothers Steve and Dave Jolliffe, and then swung over to the U.S. in 2005.
In 2016, the company, which serves more than 13 million guests annually and boasts "the world's largest digital golf audience,” was in a pro-active expansion mode, both in brick-and-mortar locations and technology.
In May, Topgolf opened its flagship location in Las Vegas adjacent to the MGM Grand, which features across 100,000 square feet over four levels more than 100 hitting bays, 100s of TVs, a concert venue that holds upward of 900 guests, VIP cabanas and suites and a bar in the middle of a pool.
In addition to play and entertainment, the venue is the site for special events, such as the one in October for Vitamin Angels, a charity that provides nutritional support to children and mothers in need.
Other new locations include Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Edison (NJ), Portland (OR) and Roseville, a suburb Sacramento. (See a full list of locations here.) New locations are planned for Miami Gardens (FL, 2017), Germantown (MD, 2017) and Alexandria (VA, 2018).
Investors include Callaway Golf and Providence Equity Partners.
Among other alliances, Topgolf is an official partner with the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 2016, for the first time since 1904, golf was part of the global stage at the Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro. Its presence there should, according to industry analysts, help to boost golf's profile worldwide.
It turns out that golf's sponsorship presence has been pretty solid all along.
Global sponsorship spend on golf is expected to top a record $1.82 billion in 2016, up 5.1% from the $1.72 billion spent in 2015, and also exceeding a projected 4.6% increase as well as a 4.7% increase in overall sponsorship spending, according to IEG, Chicago.
With that as a backdrop, Topgolf has become a leader in sports entertainment venues as well as a driver to raise the sport’s awareness among casual players and non-golfers.
In May, Topgolf acquired Protracer, which pioneered technology to track the flight of a golf ball, display its path in video and analyze each shot. That followed on the heels of the acquisition of World Golf Tour, a digital golf gaming community with more than 14 million players worldwide, where players can access games through desktop, tablet and iOS and Android apps.
Topgolf in 2016 aligned with the PGA Tour and LPGA in an effort "designed to create new fans, participants and enthusiasts and to enhance the playing and fan experiences through event and media initiatives."
In August, the premiere Topgolf Tour was initiated, with competitions at various Topgolf locations and multi-media marketing. The top players from each venue came together in November for a championship in Las Vegas.
In November, via a new new national partnership with Folds of Honor, Topgolf sponsored Patriot Golf Day to raise money for scholarships for children and spouses of fallen or disabled service members.
"We are unique; we stand out from others that combine sports and entertainment,” said Erik Anderson, co-shairman & CEO for Topgolf. "We are outdoors. It turns out people like being outdoors.
"And we have a 12-14 acre scale. So with a lot of room, we can go big. Big HDTV screens everywhere. Big entertainment platforms. So you can watch games and you can compete. We opened our flagship location in Las Vegas in May, which has taken us to another brand-awareness level and raised awareness among the public about Topgolf as a sports and lifestyle destination," he said.
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