SBJ/August 14-20, 2017/In Depth

Alliances between Topgolf, pro tours aim to groom next generation of players, fans

Children at Topgolf’s Jacksonville location receive lessons as part of Topgolf Junior Play in March.
Photo by: PGA TOUR
Cost and accessibility can be significant barriers to getting kids to play golf, but an alliance Topgolf has struck with the PGA Tour and LPGA, and separately with the PGA of America, aim to increase participation among junior golfers.

Topgolf Junior Play was developed as an outgrowth of the 2016 alliance between the PGA Tour, the LPGA and Topgolf. Junior golfers from ages 6-17 were offered a free game of play, instruction, and food and drink at Topgolf facilities in Jacksonville; Denver; Gilbert, Ariz.; Dallas; and Alpharetta, Ga.

The March 19 event drew about 2,000 junior golfers to those Topgolf locations, and the program may be expanded. Topgolf has 31 locations throughout the country.

“We are continuing to collaborate on a number of efforts,” said Bill Whaley, who as a senior regional director of operations for the PGA Tour’s TPC Network is closely involved in the tour’s grassroots growth efforts. “We are continuing to build out more programs. It is something that is part of our culture and something we believe in heavily.”

The program comes as the alliance between the tour, LPGA and Topgolf continues to evolve as programs are developed around the tour’s First Tee program and the LPGA-USGA’s Girls Golf program, both of which are major areas of focus to bring more young players to the game. Add in Topgolf’s younger, entertainment-focused offerings and the goal is to get more junior players to participate.

PGA of America recently announced a program in which Topgolf will assist golf professionals in the promotion of PGA Junior League Golf for boys and girls ages 13 and younger to learn and enjoy the game of golf. In addition, Topgolf’s Youth Play It Forward program will be available to all PGA Junior League Golf participants, and PGA Junior League captains can arrange complimentary game play sessions for their teams at Topgolf facilities.

Also, as part of its Topgolf for Good program, Topgolf in March announced that it will now offer free play to any charitable organization that is aligned with youth leadership and mentorship at any Topgolf locations Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“You don’t have to play an 18-hole course to enjoy golf,” said Topgolf Entertainment Group CEO Erik Anderson when the Junior Play effort was announced. “Topgolf is always thinking of how we can help get clubs in the hands of new players, prepare them to transition to green grass and inspire them to enjoy golf in all of its forms, whether that’s on TV, a mobile app or a PGA Tour event. Part of reaching the next generation of golfers means making the sport fun and accessible to everyone.”


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