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Best of Gary Trask
Topgolf Las Vegas a hit with golfers and non-golfers alike25 July 2016
Yet there I was, inside my climate-controlled bay at the new Topgolf Las Vegas, hitting ball after ball, barely breaking a sweat. There was cold beer, a scrumptious plate of the signature Mushi appetizer, 300 televisions showing the British Open, and a dramatic view of the High Roller off in the distance to take aim at with my Callaway driver.
Just when I thought Las Vegas couldn't possibly offer any more to a person with an insatiable appetite for gambling, golf, food and drink, here comes Topgolf Las Vegas, the largest venue of its kind, which opened to rave reviews in May, on eight acres tucked behind the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.
Now, maybe I'm not the most unbiased person to review this gigantic creation, best described as a driving range on a steroid cycle that would make Barry Bonds blush. Golf and gambling are two of my favorite pastimes, so even if my first visit to Topgolf Las Vegas didn't live up to the grand expectations created by the hype it has received over the last two months, I was most likely going to come away impressed and entertained.
But I'm here to tell you that Topgolf Las Vegas is about more than golf. In fact, I'm willing to bet you a dozen Pro VIs that even if you've never picked up a golf club and don't know an ace from an albatross, you will walk away from Topgolf Las Vegas thinking about when you'll be able to make a return visit.
If you've already been to one of the other 23 Topgolf locations that have been popping up all over the U.S. since the company was founded in 2000, you know the drill. Topgolf, with the first three letters standing for target-oriented practice, allows players to compete in an array of different games, using their own clubs or ones provided, in an atmosphere that is not anything like the driving range down the street from your house.
The games are easy to play and navigate and can be enjoyed by non-golfers, beginners and diehards. Players get instant feedback on their shots with balls containing an RFID microchip that tracks accuracy and distance on a screen located in each hitting bay. Each venue features hitting bays with temperature control, a "chef-driven" food and beverage menu, music, high-def TVs and waitress service.
Topgolf plans to open seven to 10 locations annually for the next three years, and more than 8 million guests visited a Topgolf venue in 2015.
But even if you are familiar with the Topgolf vibe and are already a fan, Topgolf Las Vegas is now the flagship location and a "must-visit" the next time you are in town. The company announced that it expects to serve in the vicinity of one million visitors in its first year of operation, and judging from the buzz and attendance thus far, it's a safe bet that it will make that mark easily.
There are number of features and amenities that set Topgolf Las Vegas apart from its sister sites. First and foremost (and most obviously), there is gaming. The MGM sportsbook has set up shop, and there are video gaming machines at the bars. (We're told that there are no imminent plans to add table games.)
Secondly, being Las Vegas, you knew there just had to be a little more flash and grandeur than the other locations — and the designers didn't disappoint. While the other venues average around 65,000 square feet, the four-floor Topgolf Las Vegas is a massive 150,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 3,000 guests, with a panoramic view of The Strip. Topgolf leases the land from MGM, so the casino supplies a continuous, free shuttle with an air-conditioned Topgolf Lounge at the resort, complete with a TV and indoor putting green. Self-parking and free valet are also available, and it is open nearly 24 hours a day (8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Mon.-Thurs.; 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
Inside there is an intimate concert venue, five bars, two swimming pools, multiple cabanas, two luxury suites, event spaces, a Callaway Fitting Studio and a retail shop, all of which are exclusive to the Las Vegas location. There is also a section called The Yard that offers beer pong, shuffleboard, cornhole and other games, under a retractable roof and complete with a 14-foot-by-48-foot TV screen that can show one game or break down into four different screens.
The menu offers an array of items with a large selection of "shared food" choices, such as the aforementioned Mushi (cilantro rice, drunken beans, spiced chicken and cheddar cheese in a jalapeno tortilla, served with sour cream, avocado and Sriracha sauce) and Injectable Donut Holes (24 cinnamon-sugar dusted donut holes that come with a choice of three flavors: chocolate, raspberry jelly or Bavarian cream).
Each of the 108 climate-controlled hitting bays offers comfortable seating that can host up to six players at one time. Additionally, each bay features a charging station and an HDTV on which the guest can choose the channel. The cost for the bays start at $30 an hour and can go up to $90 per hour, depending on the time of day and the location. That price includes unlimited balls for the hour as well as the use of clubs, and they have men's, women's, junior's and both left-handed and right-handed ones available.
As you take your shot at the targets out on the range, there are four 28-feet-by-50-feet TV screens in the outfield, just under the striking vista of the the Strip.
The meetings and private party business has been brisk, and Topgolf Las Vegas has also been a huge hit with tourists, locals and celebrities — attracting numerous NBA players and UFC fighters, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, to name a few.
Admission is free, so even if you don't enter one of the hitting bays, Topgolf Las Vegas is still a great "change-of-pace" option if you're looking to get off the Strip and do something different.
As for yours truly, Topgolf Las Vegas was a natural fit, providing a chance for me to satisfy all my vices in the same location within a few hours. Golfing 18 holes in Las Vegas can be expensive and nearly impossible in the summer months due to the extreme temperatures, but Topgolf Las Vegas more than fills the void.
Put me down for a bay during the upcoming football season, or even better, when March Madness arrives. Something tells me I'm not the only golf fanatic/sports bettor thinking that way.
Best of Gary Trask