You have probably seen dozens of pictures of friends, acquaintances, and strangers, carrying golf clubs and posing next to a tee. Common among most of these pictures is the unmistakable logo that reads “TopGolf.” That’s the name of the amusement center and driving range which is driving interest in Golf among gen-Z and late millennials. In this TopGolf guide, we start with “how does TopGolf work?”
TopGolf works with the help of electronically chipped golf balls and targets painted on the ground around golf holes. Players must drive the ball to hit the targets. Distance and precision are rewarded and the player with the highest score usually wins.
In this article, you will find out more about the type of TopGolf games and how they are different from golf. Towards the end, you’ll find the best practices for first-time TopGolf players.
A Brief TopGolf Overview
TopGolf is part driving range, part accuracy game that uses golf equipment.
It was founed in the year 2000 by Steve and Dave Jolliffe, twin brothers who were the first to use micro-chips to track golf balls. The company started in the UK (See: best golf course in Europe and around the world), and failed to get funding, support, or acknowledgement from established equipment manufacturers and the PGA.
Later, the company initial investors suggested changes in the facility structure including larger kitchens and dining area. The new version of TopGolf got licensed in the US and the rest is history.
While the luxe TopGolf facilities you see today have been reimagined several times over but TopGolf itself remains a driving range game with golf balls that are tracked electronically and a scorecard that is updated without interference.
One thing that has changed, though is golf purists’ attitude toward the game.
TopGolf vs Golf: 7 Key Differences
While golfers have become more accepting of the accessible driving range game, it remains a different sport entirely to Golf.
Because TopGolf uses golf equipment and requires a degree of skill overlap, it is possible to think of both as the same. But the differences below show that TopGolf is more of an amusement with mass-appeal than Golf.
TopGolf Is Timed While Golf Isn’t
The first difference you’ll notice going to a TopGolf facility instead of a Golf Course is in how you charge. Courses give all-day access to day-pass holders and club members but TopGolf charges by the hour. TopGolf is a timed game while Golf itself isn’t timed.
Golf Requires More Skill
Despite not being as time-constrained as TopGolf, Golf is harder. TopGolf can be played by people of different skill levels. Of course, people with zero experience can also play Golf too, but are not very likely to shoot a good score.
You can “do well,” in some TopGolf games even if you’re a complete novice, something which is physically impossible for first time golfers.
In Golf, Players Complete All Holes
If the hole in golf is to be seen as equivalent of a “target” in TopGolf, then the games are quite different. TopGolf is like a game of darts where the best players hit the key targets most often. Golf on the other hand, remains unqiue in that each player hits each target.
In an average game of Golf, everyone completes all 18 holes and their performance is compared in who used the fewest strokes for the feat. In TopGolf, only the target contacts are noticed for scoring purposes.
In Topgolf, You Drive From An Indoor Spot
TopGolf has indoor bays from which players drive at targets. But there are less than a hundred indoor golf locations in the world, as the sport is mostly enjoyed out in the open.
You Don’t Bring Your Own Equipment For TopGolf
Golfers bring their own equipment and are even fitted for individual clubs. TopGolf equipment is provided by the venue. Your own balls and club would be a nightmare for TopGolf to accommodate because of the automatic scoring tech requirements.
TopGolf Food, Beverage And Snacks
Golfers don’t usually eat on the golf course. The sport has immense respect for its environmnent which is maintained very carefully. Golfers have to be careful about the shoes they wear and how they park their carts because of course conditions’ importance. TopGolf is more of an amusement arcade where food and drinks are not just allowed but also actively served.
Golf Courses And TopGolf Facilities Have Different Games
Finally, you will see very little variation in the mainstream golf game while TopGolf has over 15 different variations. Golf is essentially the same sport with a few variations like par and bogey and match play. Most golfers choose the standard stroke play in Golf. In TopGolf, most players pick the main TopGolf game but the percentage of people who choose easier and tougher variations is in double digits.
10 TopGolf Games
TopGolf isn’t as deeply rooted in history as Golf’s stroke play, making the former relatively malleable. Within the last two decades, TopGolf has expanded its roster of driving range games to include target, stroke, speed, and time plays.
In this section you will learn more about key TopGolf games alongside their rules and required skill level.
1. The TopGolf Game
The TopGolf Game – This is the flagship driving range game, where one has to drive at targets painted across several holes. The holes that are further away have a higher score reward.
The farther you drive and the more accurate your drive is, the more points you get. You have to get the highest score to win.
2. Angry Birds
Angry Birds – The TopGolf version of Angry Birds makes use of the microchipped balls to keep track of drive trajectory.
Not only are the balls painted like Angry Brids characters but they are also tracked in a virtual game that accompanies the physical drive. You have to destroy as many virtual structures as possible.
The game is very beginner-friendly.
3. Quick 9
Quick 9 – This game is a version of TopGolf where each player gets 3 shots each at each of the 3 target colors.
The closer the ball is to the center, the more points one gets. The goal is to get the highest score. The last shot at each target has double the points, which adds to the game’s thrill.
TopShot – This variation of TopGolf is tough for beginners as it demands precise driving. Hitting the wrong target results in point loss.
The targets are farther and narrower, which makes this game even more challenging.
TopScore – This version of TopGolf is more distance-conscious and less precision-conscious. The one who hits the targets towards the outer edge of the driving range usually wins.
TopChip – This is an intermediate game which doesn’t use the farther targets, only utalizing the nearest 3 target lines.
Only the green, yellow, and red targets are at play in thi variation and hitting the wrong targets loses points. In other words, this is a precision-rewarding, low-distance-demanding version of TopGolf.
TopScramble – This is yet another intermediate-level variation of TopGolf. In Top Scramble, two teams face off with the best score on each ball being the team’s score. Usually players of equal skill and experience play against each other.
8. Closest to the Hole
Closest to the Hole – This is more of golf simulator practice than a TopGolf game. With the lowest score winning, you have to be cautious of your strokes.
Each player has 9 approach shots and 9 point assessments. The goal is to land the ball as close to the hole as possible on a virtual layout of famous courses.
TopDrive – In TopDrive, you have to drive the ball the furthest to win. Even imprecise shots that go far enough can earn points as the Trench is valid target. The only other targets at the far White ones.
10. Virtual Courses
Virtual Courses – Finally, you can play an entire round of virtual golf if you are experienced enough to pull it off on a simulator. It is the most advanced game you can play at a TopGolf facility and requires you to be already good at golf.
Given that the hardest TopGolf game is just as hard as an average round of golf, you can see why TopGolf is so appealing to novices. If you’re worried about not being good enough for TopGolf, rest assured, you’ll have a great time!
5 TopGolf Best Practices For Your First Visit
In this section, you’ll find the best practices that will makee your first visit more comfortable and fun.
Be On Time
The first thing you can do wrong at TopGolf is missing your slot. Because TopGolf is booked by the hour, every minute you waste is money. So you can either try the “walk-in” route or can arrive on time for a reserved spot. But whatever, you do, please do not miss a minute of your tee time.
In facilties that aren’t as crowded, you don’t need a reservation. However, you cannot walk into popular TopGolf spots without a reservation.
It is okay to weak Khakis and a Polo shirt for TopGolf but the amusement destination does not encourage a culture of exclusion. Almost all types of clothes are allowed, and you’ll see most people in their “hanging out” clothes than in Golf attire. So make sure to dress in comfortable clothes.
Don’t Bring Your Own Equipment
On a golf course, you can rent equipment but are better off bringing your own. In TopGolf, you cannot use your own golf balls and are given all the equipment you need on site. So you don’t have to bring anything from home except your membership card, if you have one.
Don’t Try To Overscore
There is not need to be perfect in your first attempt at TopGolf. Take on the easy and manageable targets for the first game. After you’ve built some winning momentum, you can take risks and can try to aim for farther targets. TopGolf tests both precision and driving distance. Many novices try to get both right at first attempt, which slows their overall progress.
Familiarize Yourself With Precision
You’ll make strides by understanding how your swing relates to the ball’s final landing spot. By understaning the connection between the stroke and the ball flight, you can adjust your swing and aim to hit the targets more accurately. Only upon mastering precision should you add distance to the equation.
TopGolf Guide: Final Thoughts
TopGolf is an exciting and accessible experience that’s easier than Golf.
It is okay to feel out of place on your first visit to TopGolf. But the facility’s bays and scores are pretty private so you’ll not feel as much pressure to do well. Plus, doing well is fairly easy and you will be with your friends.