Editor’s Note: Topgolf announced Monday its Glendale location will open for business 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21. A ribbon cutting with city officials will occur at 8:30 a.m.
By Mark Carlisle
Topgolf is coming soon to the West Valley.
The golf entertainment company will announce the opening date of its Glendale location Monday. It will be Topgolf’s fourth Arizona venue and third in the Valley, joining Scottsdale, Gilbert and Tucson.
The new location, at the northeast corner of 99th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, is across Loop 101 from State Farm Stadium and Gila River Arena, where the Cardinals and Coyotes play, and Westgate Entertainment District. It is the latest expansion to the area that Glendale calls its Sports and Entertainment District.
“One of the things we were hoping to do with the Westgate area… is create more events venues — more stuff to do that’s fun,” said Glendale Economic Development Officer Randy Huggins. “Beyond just eating, you’ll actually come and hang out, maybe enjoy the day here (at Topgolf), go to a bar and have a drink, go somewhere else and have dinner. It kind of creates an entire social environment.”
Topgolf added about 500 jobs to Glendale and anticipates hosting about 1,000 customers at a time during peak hours.
While the Glendale opening date has yet to be announced, the newest Topgolf venue is completed and operational. The venue hosted a “taste and tour” event Wednesday for city officials, corporate partners and media members to take a look at the new three-story venue, try out some food and drinks and tee off.
The main differences between this new location and others in the Valley are two large TV screens at the end of the 215-yard-long outfield and a 27-foot tall wall of TVs inside. Las Vegas is the only other Topgolf location with screens at the end of the outfield. The indoor wall of TVs is on the first floor but can be viewed from an overlook on the second floor as well. The display can be split to show as many as eight different channels at once.
“Our common spaces where guests can recreate are much different here,” said Topgolf spokesman Chilo Mendoza. “As you can see, on our first floor we don’t have that (the 27-foot tall TV display) available at any (other) location that we have.”
Topgolf is a new-age driving range venue with a restaurant and bar as well as patios with yard games. The 65,000-square-foot venue has 102 platforms to tee off from, or “hitting bays” as the company calls them, with 34 bays on each floor.
Balls are hit into the outfield with 10 targets. Each ball is equipped with a microchip and tracked electronically so that a golfer scores points if the ball lands in a target. Several games with different objectives can be selected on the bay’s touch screen. Topgolf is meant to accommodate all ages and skill levels of golfers. The company also offers leagues and lessons.
Each bay has chairs or a couch and a table. Food and drink orders can be taken from and delivered to the hitting bays or consumed inside or on patios or terraces. The bar on the first floor is backed by the giant wall of TVs that can also be viewed from the second-floor overlook that includes two rows of stadium seating. There is another bar on the third floor with four TVs. There are over 250 TVs total at the venue, including a TV at each bay.
The first floor has a patio with a bag toss game, a ski-ball themed putting game and a large Jenga game at the tables. The second floor and third floor each have terraces that overlook the patio or terrace on the floor below.
Floors or the entire venue can be rented for events and the third floor features a private room that can be rented for parties or events.
Hitting bays can be rented for $25 per hour before noon, $35 per hour from noon to 5 p.m. and $45 per hour after 5 p.m. Up to six people can take turns golfing at each bay, but up to eight can sit at the bay.
While Topgolf itself is complete, there will be more changes coming to the area. A five-story Holiday Inn will soon be built on the west side of Topgolf. The hotel will include a roof-top bar that will overlook Topgolf and have a view of the rest of the Sports and Entertainment District across the freeway.
“You’ll really be able to capture, from the roof of that (hotel), what’s going on in the community,” said City Manager Kevin Phelps.
Topgolf will be glad to avoid another neighbor. Last fall, another golf entertainment company with a near identical business model to Topgolf called Drive Shack announced it would build a location across the intersection from Topgolf Glendale. However, the company has since canceled plans for the location.
The Drive Shack announcement, which came a month after Topgolf announced its Glendale location, previewed a location on the Phoenix side of Bethany Home Road, on the southwest corner of the intersection with 99th Avenue. The company opened its first location, in Orlando, Florida, in April and has five more planned near the East Coast.
No Arizona venues are listed among its upcoming locations.
Adding to the Westgate area
Mr. Mendoza said the Arizona market has been great for Topgolf and the company is excited about expanding to the West Valley. He said this location will benefit from its connection to Westgate and Glendale’s sports venues.
Mr. Phelps, pointing to Westgate clearly visible across the freeway from each of Topgolf’s hitting bays, said Topgolf ended up having more synergy with Westgate than he originally thought it would.
Topgolf is “a natural fit,” he said to expand the city’s Sports and Entertainment District.
The next big addition on tap for the area is an expansion of the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino near 91st and Northern avenues.
An IKEA was planned to be added near Bethany Home Road and Loop 101, but the furniture company canceled the location, along with several others across the country, saying it was shifting its focus to online sales and smaller stores in urban centers.
Mr. Huggins echoed the thought that Topgolf was a good fit for the city.
“It’s great to have a premium brand also,” he said. “Not just an events venue, not like your standard kind of bowling venue or something, but actually something with a big name: Topgolf. National brand. They’re growing.”
Glendale is Topgolf’s 47th location, and Mr. Huggins said the company looks to add about 10 more each year throughout the country and the world.
“So, to have one here, the nicest one, the highest tech one that they have so far — can’t ask for more.”
Glen Lakes Golf Course
While Glendale is adding a new golf location with Topgolf, it may soon be removing another golf location a few miles across town. Glendale is considering repurposing or selling the city-owned nine-hole course near 55th and Northern avenues.
The course has fallen behind on capital improvements and the city would need to pump millions of taxpayer dollars into the course to get it up to par, something many on City Council are hesitant to do, especially with another, more successful city-owned course — Desert Mirage Golf Course — about five miles away. Others on Council argue the course has become this run-down because the city mismanaged it and not spent on improvements and the city has a responsibility to maintain its assets.
If the city chooses not to invest in capital improvements, it will likely look for a company to buy the course that will keep it a golf course — if the city can find such a buyer — or sell to a company that would develop housing with a stipulation that it maintains a certain amount of green space on the property. Advocates for the course have said if it must be repurposed, they would like to see the green space remain.
The city is paying a private company $429,500 to manage and make some improvements to the course for a year while it considers its options.
The course’s advocates hope Topgolf’s appeal to younger golfers will translate to more young golfers playing nine holes at Glen Lakes.