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Volume 21 No. 31
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Topgolf targets international growth, touts ball tracking system

Topgolf’s new president of international operations will oversee the company’s global venues and be responsible for expanding its recently acquired Toptracer Range technology marketed to driving ranges around the world.

Topgolf hired former British Airways executive Troy Warfield as president of Topgolf International. Warfield comes to the job with no golf industry experience after working as director of customer experience at British Airways since 2015. He previously worked in sales and marketing for Avis, Unilever, and Kimberly Clark.

Warfield replaces former Topgolf International President Neil Allen, who is assuming a new role as strategic adviser for the driving range/entertainment venue operator. Odgers Berndtson did the executive search for Topgolf.

“I have 25 years of consumer goods and marketing experience and another five years in travel, and it is how you bring the brand to life,” Warfield said. “I see this as a wonderful growth business that uses technology to innovate a global brand not only from a sports perspective but from an entertainment perspective.”

Topgolf aims to lease its Toptracer Range tech to driving ranges throughout the world.
Courtesy of: TOPGOLF
The Topgolf International division is based in London and is overseen by Topgolf Entertainment Group CEO Erik Anderson.

The company will open new Topgolf stand-alone venues in Australia and Mexico next year and one in Canada in 2019, with more international expansion planned. Topgolf has a total of 36 driving range/entertainment venues in the U.S. and the U.K. and is looking for more markets. It’s also rolled out pop-up venues in stadiums and racetracks in the U.S.

Under Warfield, the company plans an aggressive expansion of its Toptracer Range technology into privately owned driving ranges. Last year, Topgolf acquired for an undisclosed sum Sweden-based Protracer, which developed technology that uses cameras and graphics to show the flight of the ball on a TV screen. Software can also replicate famous courses on the TV screen in the range bays. Topgolf rebranded the technology into its Toptracer Range product and began marketing the system to other driving ranges. To date, only 30 driving ranges have bought the system.

Warfield began his job at Topgolf on Nov. 27, and Anderson said the company plans an aggressive expansion of Toptracer.

The system shows the flight of a ball on TV screens in driving range bays.
Courtesy of: TOPGOLF
“We see it as a way to take our brand outside of our large venues,” Anderson said. “We are excited about taking the brand to driving ranges and making it a better practice experience and a fun experience.”

To push sales, Topgolf recently changed its pricing model of Toptracer. Instead of selling the technology to driving range owners for a fee ranging between $30,000 and $100,000 depending on the size of the range, Topgolf now leases the system to range owners for $180 to $225 per driving range bay per month.

“We used to sell the hardware but realized that it’s not feasible,” said Ani Mehta, vice president of corporate development of Topgolf Entertainment Group. “Most are mom-and-pop ranges with small balance sheets. We see this changing how they sell.”

Company officials would not discuss specific Toptracer Range expansion plans, but Anderson said, “We expect to double the number in the coming six months and grow it from there dramatically.”