We sent Mike Christensen to hack a few golf balls at the TopGolf media event. Here’s his report. Follow Mike on Twitter @SCSA31274.
We’ve all been watching. Watching the progress on a lonely stretch of Westside Parkway. The clearing of trees, the building of the structure, the erecting of the (oh my God) massive poles and nets.
On May 20th, TopGolf will open its doors to the public and to Caddyshack quotes everywhere. I got an inside preview of Alpharetta’s newest entertainment complex recently and what I found was a little surprising – and pricey. But this is Alpharetta, so maybe not so surprised at the costs.
TopGolf, boiled down to its basic skeleton, is a driving range. In all it’s fanciness, it’s a three story, semi-climate controlled, super high-tech, full bar, don’t skim on the materials and food… driving range.
The place is massive. 102 total bays to play a variety of golf-centric games. The view from the tee-box is impressive. You’ll notice several holes of various sizes all over the yard. In each hole are nets to catch the balls. The object of the majority of the games is to hit the balls, equipped with GPS, into the different holes. The computer will then calculate the distance and award points. Pretty fancy, huh?
Each bay has seating and a touch screen to control the action. And of course, there are TV’s all over. You could watch golf, while playing golf. Mind blown. Don’t have any clubs? No problemo. Each bay has a selection of both men’s and women’s clubs to use. Wave your club in front of the infrared sensor and a ball is deposited out onto the green for you. Very nice. I never play golf, but I had a great time whacking away for over an hour. There will be table service available when you’re playing so don’t worry about having to venture inside for refreshment.
If you do however you will be greeted by a very nice space. There’s a full bar with seating like most high end restaurants. Industrial stainless steel meets wood is the predominant theme with billions of TV’s scattered about. The bar has a comprehensive inventory of local beers, which I was very happy to see.
After you’ve played a few rounds of golf, you’re going to be hungry. I tried a sampling of several miniature versions of items from the upcoming menu and was completely blown away. The food was fantastic. According to the presentation, 95% of the menu items are made from scratch. There were little cheeseburgers with a green chile mac n cheese patty on top, house smoked brisket tacos with ancho chile sauce and slaw and shrimp and grits.
I asked the chef about the pickle fried chicken. She said they take the chicken and brine it in pickle juice with jalapenos for six to eight hours. Then they toss it with a rub and fry it in a pressure cooker. It’s much like KFC, but KFC never made anything like this. It was outstanding. Juicy and not greasy. A big hit.
The brisket tacos were spicy, but not too bad with the slaw offsetting some of the heat. The burgers were my favorite. The green chile mac n cheese adds a ton of flavor and texture to the burger and soft bakery bun. I know the menu will have full-sized versions, but they should keep those burgers as small. It was the perfect satisfying bite.
Looking at everything, the one question that kept nagging me was, how expensive is all this going to be? Would this be a place where people can afford to go on a regular basis to hang out? To be honest, it can be pricey. The bays work on an hourly rate. It’s cheaper in the morning at $25 an hour, and more expensive during prime time at $45. That’s pretty steep. Throw in the cost of food and drinks and your tab could run upwards of $100. Of course, the more people in a bay will offset the hourly rate. There are also monthly memberships that are claimed to be helpful with the cost.
I’ve seen the menu, and most of the food items are in the $9-14 dollar range. Not terrible for the quality of food I tasted. The beer is reasonably priced with even local brews in the $4-6 ballpark. The menu itself is 16 pages long with 7 of those devoted to beer, wine, sodas, and cocktails. I wonder where they expect to make the most money?
Will the folks in Alpharetta get over their anger about the towering nets to give TopGolf a try? Probably. The space is huge, the games are fun and the food is out of this world. But you do pay a price for all that fun. Time will tell if prices will level out or will they keep people from coming back.
Disclosure: We received freebies from this business as part of a media event. You can read our disclosure policy on the about page.