Even though the PGA Show has ended for 2017 the work for me still continues. Going through pictures, contacts and getting some last-minute testing in before heading home is definitely on the agenda. Yet, the funny and strange thing is that there is a sort of hangover that lingers. I think it’s the decompression after all of the running around that gives me that feeling. As the show was wrapping up I had fully intended to head back home on the Sunday night. A weather system moved in over my route home and I decided to delay my departure a little bit. So I gave thought to playing some golf (which will still happen) but seeing that I’m staying with family in Plant City, FL I thought that it would give me the opportunity to do something that I’ve wanted to try for some time.
Top Golf – Tampa is located conveniently close to the I-75 near Tampa in Brandon. It is a facility like none that I have seen in my life. Originating in the United Kingdom, Top Golf facilities have sprung up like dandelions in the spring across the Untied States. Locations include the likes of San Antonio, TX and Scottsdale, AZ to name a few. There are several other Top Golf facilities being constructed including one that makes a ton of sense in Orlando, FL. The Canadian in me thinks that a place like Toronto or Vancouver would work extremely well (winter notwithstanding).
The venue is more of an entertainment complex than it is a practice facility. While it does house a Pro Shop giving it a golf feel there is no disputing that the bar and restaurant is where a lot of the action and success lies behind the brand. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner any time is potentially a good time at Top Golf. The grounds and periphery are meticulous and clean. To really give a feel of what the surrounding is like maybe I can help relate it to something. If you’ve ever gone bowling on a Friday night to a “Rock ‘n’ Bowl” type of thing then you’ll get the idea. The music is pumping out and really helps to set the atmosphere for a fun time. Booths are at all of the hitting bays and servers are there to cater to your requests.
Upon entering the Tampa facility I was immediately impressed. But to be totally frank I was impressed with the “curb appeal”. I approached the Guest Services desk and asked a few questions. Reservations are not taken. The cost Monday to Thursday Open to 6 is $20/bay (note that it is not per golfer) per hour. Monday to Thursday from 6 p.m. on is $40/bay per hour. Basing that on a party of up to 6 that is a very affordable night out. The cost on weekends remains the same but the hours vary a little. Please check with your location to find out the rates or visit the Top Golf website to verify rates. Upon going to Guest Services you pay $5 for a card that is a one time thing that can be used at all of the other facilities. Afterwards, I walked over to concierge and I was asked what level I wanted to play on. The hitting bays are on three different floors and I chose the middle.
I was walked out to my bay by Beth and what I will say for her and my server Caleb rings true for everyone that I came across that’s employed there. Friendly and welcoming. Beth took time to explain everything to me being a Top Golf rookie and upon understanding everything I started to play. There are a variety of games including the likes of TopScore, TopPressure, TopGolf (the flagship game), and TopChip all of which I played in my hour. The premise is… score. You are awarded points for hitting shots into different target greens. The closer to the pin the more points you get. Each game is based on 20 balls.
- TopGolf is about accumulating points by hitting all of the targets. Targets range from 25 yards (Red) to the Trench (215 yards).
- TopScore is about going big and getting more points by hitting your shots as close to the pin as possible and the further out.. the better.
- TopChip is short game. Using only the Red, Yellow and Green targets precision is the key. You hit 5 shots to the first two targets and 10 to the last.
- TopPressure is all about hitting shots with the deft focus and touch as the Tour guys and gals. You hit shots to specific targets in the Yellow target.
Even though I was by myself I had a great time playing these different games. In a way it was reminiscent of the Playstation 3 Tiger Woods franchise where you had a range with specific targets and got points. It was just like being immersed into a video game. All of the balls are micro-chipped and keep track of who the player is and their respective scores. Scores are also uploaded to your e-mail address. I think the real cool thing is that if you look at the bottom of the screen after your shot it gives you your shot distance. While 56* sounds warm back in Niagara Falls, ON in Tampa however…that’s chilly. Fear not… the bays are climate-controlled. I was offered heat but declined seeing that was golf weather at home. So when it’s deadly hot you also get the option of air-conditioning. Balls are discharged from a machine after waving the head of your golf club over an infrared eye.
I decided to take my own sticks in to the Top Golf. But if you’re new to golf and want to try it but don’t own golf clubs. They have them right there at the bays. Perfection! What a great way to grow the game. If you can, find a Top Golf and give it a try. What a great experience from beginning to end. I’ll be going back.
Until The Next Tee!