According to Mike Walton, Director of Operations, Topgolf Dubai, 'target oriented practice' is what the ‘T-o-p’ in Topgolf stands for.
That may be so, however, I suspect that for everyone who has experienced this spectacular addition to Dubai’s entertainment portfolio, it simply represents a great time with friends and family.
Mike has recently arrived in Dubai from Topgolf in New York and is justifiably unsurprised at the immense popularity of his product. When innovation, fun and inclusivity come together you have a winning formula.
Occupying 12 acres within the iconic Emirates Golf Club complex and rising to heights similar to the nearby towers of JLT and Dubai Marina, Topgolf Dubai is an intriguing addition to the emirate’s skyline.
Mike tells me that 90 per cent of Topgolf’s guests are actually novice or first-time golfers and yet, since the venue opened in late 2020, there has rarely been a day without people queuing up to play.
The Topgolf story can be traced back to the UK in 2000, where two brothers launched the business with three venues in London. Today, the Dallas-based Topgolf Entertainment Group (majority owned by Callaway Golf) boasts 65 locations around the world, with Dubai representing the first Topgolf venue in the Middle East.
Let me be honest here, as a keen (and often deluded) golfer, prior to visiting, I was mildly sceptical that I would find Topgolf to be a real challenge or of much use in improving my game. The group I went with included my wife, playing off a 24 handicap (who obviously always wins), a scratch player and his wife who is a non-golfer. Our bay No. 218 was on the middle tier of three and allowed for up to six people. Each bay is sanitised and safely distanced from the next and this applies to all 96 bays in the venue. On arrival, there is ample parking and if you are early or waiting to play, the Yard sports bar offers a lively atmosphere to enjoy a pre-event drink prior to your bay’s availability.
The Bunker cafe and mini-golf course located on the lower floor offer an immersive experience that features nine homages to motorsport, cricket, falconry, horse racing and more.
Chris May, Dubai Golf’s CEO, describes Topgolf as “a dynamic digital experience with exceptional dining and entertainment”. A very accurate summary. It is certainly a little different to my home driving range facility in Salford, UK.
Our fan-cooled bay (which you may need to turn up a notch or two soon, Mike!) had digital displays on two screens that monitor both your game progress (there are many to choose from) and the flight of your golf ball, using tracer technology linked to a chip inside the ball. The views from the playing bays back toward JLT and the Marina are fantastic, particularly in the evening. All the targets at Topgolf are illuminated and instantly award you points when you hit them. Now that is addictive. You can opt to use the ladies and men’s clubs provided in your bay, or bring your own.
A Topgolf team member supervises the technology to ensure that you can choose your preferred game and operate the scoring and once you begin, it is almost impossible for your group not to become competitive and a quick glance around confirms how totally absorbed everyone becomes. We even played the final three holes at St Andrews — not very well I may add. The highly attentive and friendly staff, great food, including vegetarian and vegan options, and an impressive selection of beverages ensures that your party is soon in full swing. We had reserved the bay for two hours from 6.30pm and the cost, excluding food and beverage, is per hour, per bay, so up to six people can share that. You may wish to opt for one of the VIP suites which include a private bar and premium service. Whether it’s a family occasion, a night out with friends, or a business function, Topgolf offers a first class experience.
For the record, my wife won.