Golf Entertainment – A Powerhouse of Innovation
Golf Reimagined Business Analyst, Justin Lukacs, delves into some of the new entertainment forms of golf.
It’s no surprise we are seeing a large expansion in the reach and popularity of golf entertainment facilities. While TopGolf has looked to expand to Canada, there are other like-minded facilities coming around Canada and all over the world. This shows how rapidly this business is pushing to the forefront of the golf offering. We are also seeing a diversification in what golf entertainment has to provide. While upscaled driving ranges are becoming the go-to for industry success, other ventures prove that this area is a diverse and malleable business with no ceiling to enjoyable experiences. From even more golf entertainment facilities being added to America and facilities popping up in London and my home of Calgary, we are going through a renaissance of this booming industry.
I have talked at length about the successes of TopGolf in previous articles. In my deep dive into the business, I explained that while it was picked up and boomed in the U.S. the business actually started in 1997 in Britain. England has a rich and storied history with golf, making the plight for golf entertainment facilities an obvious one. TopGolf may have moved away from home, but other places, like Swingers, have shown up to fill the gap. Swingers’ crazy golf looks to increase the global success of the industry by providing a fun golf game type with a modern bar setting. There are two locations in London that offer a combination of their signature crazy golf, street food, and fancy cocktails to satisfy a breadth of consumers. This essentially takes the form of an exciting mini-putt experience with packages that include dessert and unlimited drinks. “Your crazy golf game improves with a cocktail or four,” it says on their website, which shows the fun and easy-going nature of the facilities. While bars with a mini-golf course aren’t the newest idea, Swingers captures the essence of golf entertainment perfectly with the focus being on golf. The courses take up most of the space in the bar, and events center around crazy golf, not just a private room with drinks. The combination of street food also lends to the modernity of the business as this is a booming trend that has multiple benefits, not least of which being deliciousness. Swingers is a prime example of providing the golf entertainment experience, without the scale and expense of a driving range facility.
The main growth of this industry is still with those driving range facilities, however. This is evident by the sheer number of facilities that are in development and where they are being built. Only a few years ago it would have been impossible for a place like Calgary, Alberta to provide a driving range that could be used all year round. With seemingly 10 months of snowy winter, my hometown doesn’t scream “the perfect place for an outdoor facility”. Modern technology and design in the golf world have made the impossible possible. Heated driving ranges with bays providing protection from the elements allow golfers to practice their skills year-round, even in the snow. This proved to Barry Ehlert that an upscaled driving range/entertainment facility was entirely possible in Canada’s heartland. Enter LaunchPad, a TopGolf-like facility that looks to be the first of its kind in the region. Providing two stories with over 40 protected hitting bays connected to a full entertainment facility and bar, it might share relation to TopGolf but shows the true potential reach of this business model. Let’s be honest, Calgary winters are harsh. If this facility can function and attract patrons year-round at an opportune time for golf at large, then it can be done nearly anywhere in the world. Other golf locations in the area, such as Golfuture YYC, have applied a unique technique for ball collecting in the winter. Using machines already present at the facility, Golfuture YYC flattens down the snow on the range, creating a firm surface that prevents balls from getting lost or stuck, making it so the ball collectors can drive around and pick up balls successfully. It remains to be seen if this process will be repeated at LaunchPad, but with the facility set to open later in 2021, we won’t have to wait long to find out.
They say there is an app for everything, but up until recently, this statement felt a little lacking when it came to golf. Now there are more options than ever to increase the enjoyment and experience of a round aided by modern technology. Golf entertainment doesn’t solely revolve around bringing a bar to practice areas, the expanse of technology being integrated into golf means you can also bring the bar to you! The 9eighteen golf app has also been discussed in a previous article but shows that golf entertainment isn’t a one-dimensional offering. The app allows players on the golf course to order snacks and drinks to their location. This increases efficiency and sales by minimizing the time the drink cart is driving around aimlessly waiting for golfers to wave it over. It also increases the incentive to buy as the golfer can choose when/where they want to receive their order. The technology upgrade doesn’t stop there, as there is now a plethora of apps that allow golfers to book tee times easily and remotely. This system has been around for a while but the increase in number and quality of these apps, like GolfNow, make it apparent this is going to be a staple method of getting on the green for a while to come. With the rise in tracing technology, companies like Garmin Approach and Arccos have expanded on the traditionally archaic shot tracking app system by improving in nearly all metrics. The Garmin Approach s62 smartwatch is capable of showing the exact GPS location on the golf course, giving important yardage and scope of each hole. On the other hand, Arccos tracing technology is praised for providing a wealth of accurate statistics on each shot, giving players important insight into their game. Many of these gadgets and apps also come with various mini-game modes to ensure that fun is always a top priority. While this section of golf entertainment might not be as apparent in terms of growth and success, technology is a huge part of turning this traditionally tech-lacking industry into a profitable business model.
Golf entertainment continues to prove that there is no slowing down in sight. This is due to many different factors but predominantly the willingness to adopt and adapt to the opportunities that are presented. By utilizing technology to aid the enjoyment and quality of practice for golfers, it eliminates much of the stress and frustration associated with the sport, allowing players to just play. Tapping into trends and combining those with successful ventures has shown to bring new life to golf in many areas of the business and many areas around the world. We are seeing the expansion of golf entertainment facilities all over the world, from South Korea to London to Canada, which paints a picture of the absolute powerhouse industry of golf entertainment.