Top Golf Improves Practice

imageA golf center in the Chicago area has installed a new practice system called Top Golf. A story in the Chicago Tribune describes it:

TopGolf is a futuristic three-story facility that uses high-tech computer technology to provide a unique interactive experience. It starts by using golf balls embedded with microchips, registering them as your ball.

You hit those balls into 11 dartboard-like greens, which have underground readers—1,200 in all—that transmit data about the shot back to a computer monitor at your station. You then get an exact reading of how far your ball traveled and how close it came to the flag—assuming, of course, you hit the green.

It is terrific feedback. No more guessing, “Is that flag 150 or 175 yards?”

Golfers simply can spend their time hitting shots at those flags, like a regular practice session. But the real allure of TopGolf is being able to play games.

Consisting of 20 balls, TopGolf gives the player four options. The most basic game is scoring points by hitting balls into any of the 11 targets. Another game, called TopPressure, tests the short game by requiring players to chip into nine segments of a green.

You can play against yourself or in a group of up to four players.

The beauty of playing the games is that every shot counts. The T-O-P in TopGolf stands for “Target-Oriented Practice.”

The company also offers Top Chip and Top Putt. The Top Chip looks good, but photos of the Top Putt remind me of a low-end miniature golf course—one with the green, but no windmills or clown feet.

It’s a great idea, and I can see these finding a real home at one of the four seasons resorts in Northern Michigan. It would be very cool to come in off the slopes at Boyne, pick up my clubs and head over to an enclosed range for some golf practice. They’ve already got massive indoor water parks, so this would be a natural.

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