A TopGolf Outing

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For quite a while, I’ve seen the tall poles with netting along GA 400.  This is easily recognized as protection against stray balls from a golf driving range.  Eventually I connected the dots between that and TopGolf, which has become a quickly expanding rage across the U.S.

I’ll start with the golf part.  It’s a three tiered facility with bays in which groups of up to 6 people can play.

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It’s not a driving range, per se, and in the various game play categories, you’re not playing golf, either.  But you’re golfing.  Given that each ball has a clever chip  somewhere embedded that tags it’s ultimate stopping point with your scorecard, you might think that you would start off with a driver, go to an iron, pitch, or similar, to reconstruct normal golf play, even absent a putting option.  Instead, the inventors of this made a group game of aiming at various targets as some might when practicing.

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There’s maybe 12 games available.  We played the basic game, which gives points corresponding to landing a ball within one of the “hole” areas you see above.  Each “hole” is segmented by netting very similar to a dart board, with increasing points based on how close you get to the center.  In this version of the game, you can aim for any of the holes that you choose.  In other games, you have to aim for specific ones.  Winners are determined by the points scored.

We arrived after work and were assigned a bay.  There’s an hourly rate which isn’t too bad if you’re splitting the cost.

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After just beginning, we were relocated to another nearby lane to accommodate this guy:

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That would be Freddie Freeman, first baseman for the Atlanta Braves, who played with a couple of friends.  No problem there – we got a free hour of extra play, and I don’t think anyone bothered him for autographs or idol worship. (He’s not John Smoltz with a club, yet...)

Overall, play was fun.  Suitable golf clubs are provided.  The farthest “hole” was about 175 yards, so if you want to crush a driver, you can hit the far net but won’t get any points for it.

For those that don’t play much, it’s not too hard.  You’ll hit some and miss some.  It would be even harder at other TopGolf facilities.  Due to the Georgia clay, they had to pave the course with asphalt then top it with sand before putting the fake grass down.  As a result, you get big bounces and a lot of roll.  In addition, the sides are banked, so if you hit the right distance, it’s possible the ball will still roll into one of the holes.  As an observation, anyone who is terrible at golf, or never played, shouldn’t be intimated by going there.  There were ample bad shots being hit everywhere.

The venue is also built for entertainment.  Wait staff will come to your bay and bring beers and food, and, well, the beer selection is good and prices are reasonable.  But the food... We had a nachos appetizer which turned out to be 8 or so flat nachos, with cheese and peppers on them with guacamole and sour cream to the side.  We expected a messy basket of goodness for the $8 price, and opted to eat elsewhere after we were done.

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The lower level has pool tables and event space, and I saw at least once conference room either for employee training or to make business expenses more legitimate.  *cough cough*

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My only gripes were a full parking lot which necessitated valet use, the food cost/portion, and the electronic game tracker that wouldn’t automatically advance from golfer to golfer, like a bowling scoring system would.  As a result, we periodically hit balls that were tagged to the wrong person.

Also of note, they’ll eventually get sued for someone being struck by a golf club for failure to provide conspicuous warnings to stay behind the red line when someone is hitting... kind of like “No Diving” at the lip of a pool. 

It was a fun time and I’d return for a group outing.

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