36 GOLF ASSOCIATION OF PHILADELPHIA
best of the best. The 30th anniversary of the game will be celebrated at next
year’s World Championship in Las Vegas, Nev., June 21-23.
THE VIDEO GAME CRAZE of golf doesn’t just end in the arcade setting.
Anyone familiar with the sport remembers the release of EA Sport’s Tiger
Woods PGA TOUR series. That scene-shifter, which brought in more than $770
million as of 2013, introduced golf to millions through the years. However, after
an underwhelming release with Rory McIlroy as the cover man in 2015, the
TOUR decided not to renew its licensing agreement.
That end of an area has paved the path for another title to take off, this time
in the form of simulation-based The Golf
Club 2019. It’s here where players can not
only tee it up on famous tracks, but also on
user created ones – a library that includes
more than 170,000 custom designs.
The virtual offerings available on these
different platforms, including the hundreds
of apps available on smartphones and
tablets, are just another way the game
has adapted to its modern surroundings.
There’s no denying these efforts are helping grow the game – even if not in the traditional way.
PGA TOUR licensing director Matt Iofredo, in a May press release, said
the partnership with The Golf Club is part of the sport’s on-going efforts to
introduce golf to a wider audience.
“Video games are a great
platform for us to reach our fans
and potentially new fans,” said
Iofredo. “The hope is that you
start playing the video game
and it piques your interest
in golf in general and then
maybe you want to attend
an event, maybe you want
to tune in on TV or one
of the digital platforms, or
maybe you want to go out to
a driving range and hit balls and
eventually go play.” – D.S.
olf is a party, the likes of Topgolf and simulator golf hosts.
Now grab a few friends. Order a few appetizers. Enjoy a few
spirits. Make more than a few memories.
All the while golf glistens like candles atop a celebratory cake.
“The social aspect is what people really enjoy. Just coming out,
hitting some balls, sharing some food and drinks … you get golf and
the vibe of a bowling alley all mixed together,” Colin Lester, marketing
manager of Topgolf’s Mount Laurel, N.J. location, said. “It makes for a
really great time.”
“I think the younger crowd doesn’t want to donate five hours [to play
traditional golf]. It wants entertainment, and that’s what I sell,” Steve
Knapp, who operates Golf364, an indoor simulator facility in Linfield, Pa.,
said. “I’m selling more entertainment than I am golf. Golf just happens to
be the setting.”
According to a report issued by the National Golf Foundation in 2015,
alternative golf experiences such as Topgolf or simulator golf expose
the sport “in a comfortable, fun, non-threatening environment” while
highlighting its appealing aspects (e.g. friendly competition, social cama-
raderie, etc.). Simulator golf attracted four million participants in 2015; 81
percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with simulator golf.
Topgolf, too, continues to grow as an alternative to traditional golf.
In 2017, it registered an estimated 23 million rounds played. It now
welcomes more than 13 million guests annually.
Topgolf’s 48th location opened in Mount Laurel, N.J. in October. The
65,000-square-foot venue offers 102 hitting bays/gaming areas: 34
Lester didn’t have specific figures available regarding the amount of
Topgolf guests to date, but did indicate that the fanfare is positive.
BASHING AT THE BAY:
Topgolf, simulator golf showcase
game’s social strength
Topgolf in Mt. Laurel, N.J.