Topgolf envisions opening three to four new locations in the UK within the next few years.

One of the early adopters of competitive socialising, the business opened its first venue in Watford in 2000, soon to be followed by Chigwell and Surrey locations. However, it would be 17 years until the next UK launch, with a Glasgow venue opening in 2022.

Marking a significant milestone globally, Topgolf’s 100th venue opened this month in Montebello, California. The driving range concept utilises electronically tracked golf balls at open-air venues and operates in Australia, Germany, Mexico, Thailand, and the UAE. 

In October 2020, publicly traded Callaway Golf announced it was acquiring Topgolf, with the companies completing a previously announced merger. 

Senior director of international marketing, Michael Angelides tells MCA the recent success of the Scottish venue has been a catalyst for a return to the expansion trail; demonstrating that the UK market is ripe for further development.

The business has just purchased land in an area “further up north” and is looking at an additional Greater London location alongside “bigger metropolitan areas”, such as Birmingham or Manchester. He also sees opportunity for at least another three locations in Scotland.

“If you think about the footprint in terms of build, it needs to be a vast amount of land- so the pipeline and ability to grow takes a little longer, but we are actively looking at locations.”

A Topgolf venue can on average hold up to 800-900 people at a time, and Angelides describes a mantra of “fewer, bigger, better” venues, ensuring each location becomes a prime destination for the competitive socialising concept.

“Most people don’t really know that we started as a UK business 24 years ago, I don’t think competitive socialising was a buzzword back then,” Angelides recalls.

Previously, Topgolf was largely a destination built for seasoned golfers to practice, but Angelides describes a multi-pronged evolution.

“I think in the early years the concept was to make it a place for golf practice. But we just organically saw a wider demo than just pure golfers coming. Today our demographic is vast,” he explains.

“I remember back in 2006 we started seeing young kids turn up, families come out for a day out, and young adults coming in the evening as a place to hang out and socialise. There have also been some shifts particularly in terms of corporate market and occasion-based visits.”

Today, the business also looks towards a new product launch aimed at non-golfers, “that will make golf less hard and more fun.” “We appreciate that the game of golf is hard, and is steeped in a lot of tradition and history and elitism,” Angelides adds.

Meanwhile, as part of the brand’s Summer of Play initiative, an Eat, Drink & Play package for 2 games, 1 meal, and 1 drink will be available throughout the school holidays at Topgolf’s London venues.

topgolf food

Over time the F&B aspect to the business has also been “elevated.” “Now that we are under the American brand, there is that influence to the service model and the food and beverage side. We are getting to a point where we’re more from scratch than we were historically, thinking about fresher ingredients, and who we have as suppliers.

Today, the business is split by revenue between gameplay and food and beverage. “Certainly the elevation around F&B and ancillary products is where incremental spend can come from, so there’s a lot of focus on enhancing that now.”

Reflecting on changes in the wider market, he adds, “There’s so much cool stuff happening in the competitive socialising world. There is a mindset for us that collectively as a social experience, rising tide lifts all boats to some degree. We are all discretionary spending in terms of our audience, but our biggest competition is ourselves in ensuring that we continually innovate.”

Alongside scouting new locations, the business has plans to evolve its London estate, bringing these sites up to date with the group’s signature build style and Toptracer technology.

“We’ve incorporated new technology into our gaming experiencea and so if you go to our Glasgow venue, beyond the core games you have virtual courses with new gameplay. The evolution of the technology has shifted and we cannot retrofit that technology into our existing London venues. Greater London is still a key market for us, so we need to evolve that experience.”