Topgolf will offer free five-minute lessons Wednesday with a golf professional at all U.S. venues excluding the Las Vegas location. Erik Anderson, co-chairman and CEO of Topgolf Entertainment Group, said he’d be happy if the company provided 3,000 lessons to exceed the number given away last year on National Golf Day.
“We feel we’ve been the beneficiary of a lot of folks who have been great stewards of the game, obviously the PGA (of America), PGA Tour, USGA, all of the organizations,” Anderson said. “And the ability to take it forward, introduce young people and get more people involved in the game, is of meaningful interest to us, and we think it’s important. It’s a great way for us to give back to the game, to the communities and particularly young people.”
Five minutes isn’t a long lesson, but Anderson says it’s enough time to learn a few fundamentals, have some fun and get beginners excited about the game.
“As you can imagine with the scale of Topgolf, we have professional golfers (and) we’ve got beginners,” he said. “We have all shapes and forms of golfers.”
Perhaps no business has done more to make golf engaging and approachable than Topgolf, where the game is part of an entertainment experience with food, drinks and music. Anderson says the company employs about 12,000 people. There are locations in 15 states, with more set to open in Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee to expand to 20 states by fall 2018.
“Topgolf has been phenomenal from the standpoint of creating greater interest in the game. … Their patrons skew very much in the Millennial age group,” said Steve Mona, CEO of World Golf Foundation and administrator of We Are Golf. “And what they’ve been able to do is to provide a golf experience in a very casual, festive sort of atmosphere, which I think has helped to overcome perhaps some of the perceptions of the game that might be held by those who don’t play it.”
According to the company’s website, Topgolf had 26,000 average visits a day in 2016. Of groups that have played at Topgolf this year, 53% fall in the 18-34 age range. Topgolf says 37% of its guests are non-golfers.
Anderson says Topgolf provides what he calls a “parallel experience,” which appeals to Millennials.
“You’re playing the game; you can stop and watch television; you can stop and take pictures,” he said. “It was really important for us to bring that group to golf in a format that they seem to really like.”
National Golf Day is in its 10th year and is hosted by We Are Golf (WAG), a coalition of the sport’s leading organizations. WAG will host events in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America will bring together more than 120 volunteers Tuesday for a beautification project on the National Mall.