How are traditional golf courses competing with Topgolf?

The owners of Topgolf are pure golfing genius, and there is no way of disputing that. In 2000 the Jolliffe brothers and a licensee developed the first three Topgolf locations in the United Kingdom. Even if you don’t play golf, you’re bound to find yourself at a driving range at some point in your life.

Although you may have a good time with friends whacking a little white ball into deep space as hard as you can, there was always something missing at your regular ‘ol driving ranges.

Scratching your head you finally realize that you’re missing the other essentials to a good time. You have friends and golf clubs, but you’re without food, drink, and a means to compete on a friendly level. The Jolliffe brothers fulfilled that need with their Topgolf creation. Allowing you to experience a driving range in the most social of settings, or a millennial’s paradise.

Topgolf is making golf fun again, and millennials are starting to gravitate towards the sport now that it has become a ‘fun trend’ for lack of a better term.

According to the National Golf Foundation’s annual study of golf participation in the United States, “36 percent of the nearly 24 million golfers in the United States are young adults aged 18 to 39, and over 15 million additional millennials expressed interest in taking up the game.”

It’s not just Topgolf, but the professional ranks, that are making this sport popular among the millennial generation. Under Armour’s golf apparel branch has grown 25 percent in the last three years. We all know why. The company sponsors  24-year-old Jordan Spieth and 2-time NBA MVP Steph Curry who is an avid golfer as well.

Under Armour’s vice president and general manager of UA golf is well aware of the growth the company has seen because of the younger generations:

“We have always positioned ourselves to be the ‘brand of the next generation.’ We are also cognizant of the fact that leveraging team sports athletes, like Steph Curry, and their affinity for the sport not only allows us to reach a younger audience but also creates a ‘cool factor’ that the game doesn’t see often.”

The only problem with millennials is that most are prone to having a shorter attention span (not all but most). According to the same study by the National Golf Foundation, 70 percent of the 18-hole rounds played in 2016 (468 million) were played by men/women 50 years or older.

So how are traditional golf courses going to stay afloat with millennials taking over the game, and not having the attention span to last all 18 holes…or maybe even nine for that matter.

Some courses are trying to fix this by offering people to come play five holes instead of nine or 18. It’s a little odd at first but it makes sense. You’re not committing two or four hours to playing golf on a given day, as five holes – if played efficiently – should be completed in around one hour. An average person probably spends around an hour and change when visiting a Top Golf or any other driving range facility.

A public golf course in Caln, Pa (Ingleside Golf Club) has been offering their patrons five holes for $5 for quite some time now. Going to play five holes is a perfect way for seasoned golfers to fine tune their game while giving millennials a chance to play their game without committing an entire day to it (plus their pockets will thank them too).

It’s nice to see traditional courses are finding ways to keep up with the people who are playing on them.