Ball in Play?

Topgolf scouts Coachella Valley location.

Judd Spicer Golf

The Topgolf location in Las Vegas shows a lounge area set off from the driving range.

Topgolf is interested in adding the Coachella Valley to its growing list of nationwide locations.

The burgeoning sports/entertainment chain promotes climate-controlled driving ranges that include a higher end food and beverage menu, music, and hundreds of HDTVs. Golfers smack microchipped golf balls that score themselves, providing instant feedback on each shot’s accuracy and distance.

Although no specifics are available yet, nor a deal cemented for a Topgolf facility, Zach Shor, COO of Topgolf International in Dallas, says the Coachella Valley is a prime candidate for one.

“Our interest level is certainly higher than before; the more we explore [the Coachella Valley market], — the more we learn, the more we see it — the more we like it,” says Shor. “We’re still getting our arms around exactly where in the valley we would want to go, where along Interstate 10 we are really looking so we can maximize our reach.”

The Topgolf location in Las Vegas has 108 climate-controlled hitting bays.

In the western region, Topgolf is established in Arizona (Scottsdale and Gilbert, both in the greater Phoenix area), Las Vegas, and in Roseville, California, near Sacramento.

The company’s on target for 34 Topgolf locations domestically by the end of 2017 (along with three in the U.K.), and a valley venue would be among the smallest markets (if not the smallest) in Topgolf’s stable. But that doesn’t appear to be a negative factor to the company.

“I think the overall challenge for us is just market size,” says Shor. “But I think the tourism of the valley really, really helps, and the golf-centric culture. And I think Topgolf, with being in the shade, the misters on, with good food, a cool drink, and a fun game – I think people would really embrace this form of entertainment.”

The longtime presence of the LPGA Tour’s ANA Inspiration and PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge are helping the valley’s Topgolf cause.
“Those are obviously things we take into account, and given it’s such a golf-crazy region, that certainly helps,” adds Shor.

Pressed further for logistical updates, Shor takes a practice swing.

“I can’t give you anything specific, but I can tell you that it’s likely you’ll hear more about Topgolf in the valley over the next, call it, year or two.”

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Judd Spicer is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Have a golf tip or golf story idea to share? E-mail Judd: [email protected]. Listen to Judd and co-host Matt McKay on “The Press Box,” Sunday mornings from 8 -10 a.m. on ESPN 103.9 FM – Palm Springs.

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