TopGolf in Tampa, Where the Game Swings
By Jennifer Audette
Forget dress codes, volume restrictions, sunscreen and sand traps. You can get your golf on while wearing flip-flops, sipping beer and eating doughnuts.
Very little hifalutin etiquette is expected at TopGolf Tampa, the company’s first venue to open in Florida. It’s golf course meets Jimmy Buffett, and it’s swiftly attracting die-hard golfers as well as beginners and young families.
On Saturday nights, for instance, the waits have been known to be up to four hours long.
“There’s a really good atmosphere here,” said Alyssa Castellano, 24, of Tampa, who was with a group of six friends on a recent weeknight. “The view is really good.”
The attraction has three levels, all facing onto the targets and holes. Each level has “bays,” which can accommodate up to six people. Players shoot a microchipped ball into one of 11 targets, ranging from 25 to 215 yards away. All scores are recorded into a computer. Guests can bring their own golf clubs or use ones provided for free.
“It’s good for date nights, girls nights, guys nights. Everyone can have a good time here,” said Blair Hartley, marketing manager for TopGolf Tampa.
Rates are $20 an hour during non-peak hours and $40 an hour during peak hours, which are weeknights and weekends. New guests also pay a one-time $5 card fee.
Tommy Tannert of Tampa, a regular golfer, says he comes out to Top Golf a few times a month.
“I love golfing,” Tannert said. “I like the atmosphere here. People are so friendly.”
Top Golf sees as many avid golfers as first-timers.
“We’re not trying to replace a golf course,” said Brad Spofford, director of operations for TopGolf Tampa. “One of the things we’ve found is avid golfers do enjoy it here; from a technology standpoint, it gives them the ability to practice. They are provided distance and accuracy info right away.”
Practicing your swing and aim also is less time-consuming at Top Golf, Spofford said.
“To go out and play 18 holes takes 4½ to 5½ hours. You can enjoy golf, and it’s not as much of a time commitment.”
As for the long waits, that’s going to happen when you’re the first of its kind in the state. But other areas won’t have to wait long for their own site. Talks are in the works to open sites in Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami.
“We can’t wait to build in Florida,” Spofford said. “In Tampa, we’ve been welcomed with open arms.”
To combat the waits until a bay becomes available at Top Golf Tampa, guests have many options, such as pool tables, video games, Giant Jenga, live disc jockeys on the weekends, food and drinks, including something called Mushi.
For $10, you can feast on Mexican Sushi, rolled with rice and beans and beans, filled with chicken and cheddar cheese, and served in a jalapeño tortilla.
Be sure to try the Fish Bowl, a shareable, light-up rum concoction that comes in four flavors: Melon Mulligan, Punch Party, Pineapple Express and Flagstick Swizzle. The 30-ouncer is $15, and the 60-ouncer is $30.
Injectable doughnut holes can be infused with chocolate raspberry jelly or Bavarian cream ($10 for 24 holes).
“You can do a lot of fun things in one visit,” said Hartley.
If you go…
What: TopGolf Tampa
Where: 10690 Palm River Road, Tampa.