September 30, 2020
Upon walking up to TopGolf, you definitely get the “I’m so small and this place is huge” kind of vibe. With approximately 60 hitting bays across two levels TopGolf has the ability to accommodate nearly any event size.And this is even their smallest venue compared to their typical three levels and over 90 bays. We won’t even mention how big the grandioso Las Vegas location is. Okay, it’s five stories with swimming pools and all kinds of other attractions.
On a Monday morning it’s pretty quiet, but you do notice the place is well staffed. The building is beautiful and state-of-the-art technology seems to be everywhere. Only having been open for a little over a month, it still has the “new car” smell. The bays are large enough to easily hold 6-8 people with plenty of room to move around or sit at the large rectangle high top towards the rear of the bay.
If you walk into Beyond Golf on a sunny day you may need a second for your eyes to adjust and regain your bearings. With warm, mahogany woods and granite countertops, Beyond Golf has a country club’s clubhouse kind of feel. You immediately notice the large bar on the left and kitchen on right.The three main Golfzon golf simulators illuminate the back wall and scream“Come play with me!” There are a plethora of big screen TV’s and a main seating area to make up the rest of the space. If you wander around a bit, you will also notice a party room towards the back around the corner and a large patio out the hall to the right. The party room hides another two simulators, plus more seating to enjoy a beer or snack while watching the golf.
The biggest difference between these two places’ atmospheres is the sheer size. TopGolf is quite possibly ten times the size of Beyond Golf!Besides that, they would both be a great spot to watch a game, grab a bite, and sip on a brew.
TopGolf uses a proprietary microchipped golf ball that can be tracked to its exact location at any time. They use this technology to incorporate a scoring system through a selection of games such as closest to pin and longest drive. As you walk up to the hitting bay, you have a nice selection of right-handed clubs off to the side and a great view of the large range. The range features several dart board-like targets. A wave of the club over the sensor to the right of the hitting mat and a golf ball rolls out onto the mat. There is a short rubber tee, almost too short for a driver, and plenty of green turf to hit directly off of. A touchscreen monitor is mounted to the wall to create a user profile, set up your game and track your time. This screen will also allow you to purchase more time to your tab if you decide togo longer. As you pipe golf balls out into the range, you can check this monitor to see exactly which area of the target you landed in and how many points you received.
The Golfzon simulators at Beyond Golf have been named the best golf simulator by Golf Digest for several years in a row. You will notice a similar hitting mat as TopGolf only quite a bit larger. There is a striped fairway mat and two smaller mats for rough and sand lies. You can also control game setup directly on the big screen using a mouse and keyboard. Once you’re on the course or driving range, two of the biggest features that set Golfzon’s simulators apart from the rest are the auto-tee and hydraulic stance plate. The auto-tee lifts a new golf ball from a hole in the fairway mat immediately after the previous ball is hit. No bending over and absolutely no looking for a golfball. The tee is also adjustable to a large range of heights.
The hydraulic stance plate is by far the coolest addition to create more realism to a golf simulator. It essentially shifts the entire ground to the actual slope of the lie on the course. For example, if you hit the ball on the side of a hill with a severe side slope, the stance mat will shift to that exact pitch.
The golf is definitely very different between both of these establishments. TopGolf is great for mid-range practice and closest to pin games between friends. The ability to see real ball flight is an advantage that can’t be overlooked. On the other hand, the ability to play a full course atBeyond Golf lends itself to longer stay times, keeping the golfer engaged for longer periods of time.
Food and Drink
At first glance of the TopGolf menus (both food and drink),I immediately think of all the common sports bar chains. All the usual suspects are there and only one lonely salad. This makes me feel like they have narrowed their demographic a bit too tightly. Granted, salads are difficult to eat while golfing, but they have a decent sized dining area as well, so I was a bit surprised this category was so limited. The rest of the food menu mostly consists of a nice variety of appetizers and a handful of sandwiches. During my visit, I ordered the wings and nachos and they both arrived quickly and at proper temperatures. They were both very tasty, although I felt that the nacho portion was quite small. They have the style of nachos where each chip looks like it’s built individually and every ingredient is carefully placed to create the perfect combination with every bite. Not my favorite style, but quite delicious!
As you would expect, the drink menu’s largest component is their beer selection. This is where I get to have some fun. Imagine the big bosses at Miller/Coors and Bud taking the poor corporate TopGolf beverage director into a dark alley, holding him at gunpoint and forcing him to sign his life away selling their mass produced beer. Not a single local brewery featured on this menu. Unfortunately, the cocktail menu doesn’t scream creativity either since it lists a Jack and Coke as one of the classic cocktails. TopGolf can definitely do better in this entire category. I did enjoy a Bloody Mary or two(it was a Monday, geez) and they were quite good. I was even told they make their own mix which I was happy to hear.
Beyond Golf’s food menu features a variety of appetizers, grilled paninis, flatbreads, salads and wraps. There is a noticeable emphasis on smoked meats with their chicken wings, brisket and pork. These are all incorporated through unique twists on several menu items. A quick look behind the bar at Beyond Golf and you will notice a strong emphasis on craft beer ,infused spirits and Bloody Marys. The draft system boasts 24 local and regional craft beers of a variety of styles. An entire shelf is dedicated to house infused vodkas (and a couple other spirits) soaking in fresh ingredients on display for your viewing and, of course, tasting pleasure. The specialty drinks menu contains a few golf themed seasonal cocktails and an absolutely fantasticOld Fashioned. It’s made with Wild Turkey Rare Breed! On another shelf, a little higher up, you will notice a series of trophies Beyond Golf has won for their “Award-Winning Bloody Mary”. All I can say is it’s a must try!
Overall, the food and beverage options between these two are quite different. There’s definitely the corporate vs. locally owned vibe.TopGolf appears to shoot straight for the masses while Beyond Golf seeks those who appreciate the finer things in life.
In the end, these two companies are definitely apples and oranges. While they are both entertainment venues with a focus on golf that is about as far as it goes. TopGolf states that 51% of their customers are non-golfers who wind up swinging a club for the first time with their friends at one of their venues. The concept is very much like taking a bowling alley and swapping the lanes with a driving range. People love to have an activity to do while socializing. Meanwhile, Beyond Golf definitely has its share of newbies, but the ability to play famous courses from around the world no matter the weather lends itself much more attractive to novice and avid golfers. Beyond Golf’s simulators also have a dart style game that is well suited for all abilities as well.
TopGolf is primarily a destination spot in which the majority of patrons will golf during their visit. Beyond Golf has a surprisingly large customer base of those who stop in solely for a bite and a drink with no intention to golf. Watching the golfers may be an extra slice of entertainment though!