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Volume 26 No. 113
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Topgolf Plans Aggressive Expansion Campaign Into New Markets

Topgolf Exec Chair Erik Anderson said the golf-themed entertainment company is at the beginning of an aggressive expansion campaign that will see the company in 50 markets by year’s end, with many more locations to come both as stand-alones or integrated into other sports and entertainment facilities. “You should expect to see Topgolf where ever you see people coming together,” said Anderson, who was a featured interview this morning at the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium. “Topgolf is really an idea, and it’s about community.” Anderson said the company started as a fairly straightforward driving range operation -- an industry with an already checkered history -- but with the added component of food and drink. Fueled in part by major trends around social media and live entertainment, Topgolf quickly expanded into a much larger and more experiential idea in which hitting golf balls at targets has been expanded into a multi-layered operation with growing extensions into music, comedy, cuisine, lifestyle and content creation. Roughly half of Topgolf clientele were not initially active golfers, though play at their facilities has translated to some increases in play at traditional courses. Roughly half are aged 18-34, a highly coveted demo by every other sports property. “The big idea for us was take out a lot of the barriers of golf, such as around time, cost and skill, and make it about fun and community,” Anderson said.

* Anderson said Topgolf is considering an IPO for the company, but did not provide specifics around the likelihood of that or a potential timetable for a decision. “We are a candidate to go public for sure. It would be silly to say otherwise. ... We’re probably an interesting public company, like Starbucks was given how people connect with us.”

* On studying competitive threats: “I really spend my time thinking about the attention economy. ... We’re competing for attention. All the things I worry about around competition are about what people are doing with their time, and my biggest focus is that.”

* On the company’s alignment with traditional golf entities such as the PGA Tour, LPGA, and PGA of America. “They’re all really additive, and at their core all about growing that global audience and interaction with the game.“