This is the time of year where golf courses in Florida used to be packed to the hilt.
Better have a tee time or you wouldn’t get to play.
Nowdays, not so much.
But go by the Top Golf here in Tampa and the place is packed.
Which begs the question: Is Top Golf The Future Of Golf?
Golf claims it is working on its problems and they still remain: takes too long to play, it’s too expensive.
The club industry is doing nothing about the “expensive” part. Every year, make that every 9-10 months, it seems TaylorMade battles Callaway to see how’s got the best $500 driver. It’s gotten to the point where they don’t introduce totally new clubs, they simply “modifiy” the ones from the previous year and try to convince you to fork out that $400-$500 to pick up the new “modified” driver.
Putters are even worse. You should be able to buy a nice putter for $75 but instead, they’re now pushing the limits, going for $250 and up.
We are not even going to talk about Parsons Extreme Golf.
Ridiculous. Where’s the used club barrel?
The time element is still there as well with rounds still pushing close to five hours, it’s a day-long commitment. This problem is leading to more “short courses” coming to life as well as some places building six-hole courses that can be played as six par threes or three holes that includes a par four and par five.
Which brings us back to Top Golf.
Top Golf is really a giant bar-restaurant with a range attached. That’s it. There’s music, laughter — not the traditional “quiet” of a golf course.
It’s full of young people, a lot you can tell have never played golf. With it’s multi-story setup, you can basically top the ball and it’s still air born. Doesn’t matter, flub your shots then go sit on the comfy luxury sofas and down a beer.
For those unaware, Top Golf has a dirty little secret — the golf balls are limited flight balls. Have to be, the facility in Tampa is only about 220 yards in length, they put up extremely high netting. If the balls were real, we figured Rory McIlroy could hoist a four-iron over the end of the range.
The microchip technology does allow for competition. There are “greens” and the computers will measure how close a ball is hit to any of the greens.
But if you watch most of the people there, they’re just wacking balls.
There’s a lot of families with smaller children, lots of high school and college age kids.
The college kids seem to enjoy the beer more than the golf. Shocker!
It’s certainly not cheap. Food and beverages are pretty expensive and the balls are as well.
Still, apparently, it’s drawing people like flies to a picnic.
That’s because it is a lot of things golf is not.
It’s louder, it’s a party atmosphere.
Which goes back to this holiday time of the year.
Where would you rather go: A Party or the Golf Course?
At Top Golf you can do both.
Which is probably why we’re looking at the future of golf.