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Indoor golf expands into new demographics, fusing technology and entertainment

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X-Golf, the indoor golf simulator franchise announces expansion across North America through 2021, promising footprint will double by mid-2021. The move echoes the exponential interest in indoor golf, evidenced by the expansion of TopGolf into new regions and across a younger “non-golfing” demographic.

X-Golf has expanded to more than 25 locations in 2020 and has new openings planned in cities across North America. 2021 openings are slated in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Toronto, Providence in Rhode Island, Madison in Wisconsin, and Charlotte in North Carolina. Further openings are expected.

Each location will feature state of the art simulators employing X-Golf America’s proprietary technology – a combination of camera systems, infrared lasers, impact sensors, and gaming software. Customers can replicate all golf shots, including short game. The software performs over six thousand calculations per second, measuring ball speed, direction, launch and spin, alongside impact and path of the club used.

Virtual golf clubs

Offerings include private lessons, standard tee time, tournaments and special events. The kiosks act like virtual golf clubs, with competitions and leagues, and membership. The simulators can cater for all skill levels. All locations have bars and restaurants, serving beer, wine, spirits and various food options.

“Continued interest from new and existing franchisees this year has been incredible, especially given the circumstances of 2020,” said Ryan D’Arcy, President and CEO of X-Golf America, in a press release. “Our organic growth has been fuelled by offering an unmatched simulator experience in the industry. Our superior technology combined with operations expertise will further X-Golf’s capability to build the singular brand in a segmented marketplace.”

Connected platforms and personalised experiences

A new connected platform is also being launched in advance of 2021. This will integrate X-Golf’s technology across all venues and allow players to personalise their experience. They will be able to track data, work on developing their game from tee to greens, and compete for prizes and experiences.

Rise and rise of TopGolf

Golf in general is expanding rapidly with indoor shooting ranges, whether real or virtual, taking over from outdoor courses. Topgolf Entertainment Group began with three venues in the UK in 2000. It expanded to the US in 2005 and by 2019, Topgolf owned, operated or franchised 58 venues across the United States, the UK and Australia. Players shoot golf balls that contain microchips that can track the accuracy and distance of each shot.

Topgolf Dubai, based at the Emirates Golf Club, opened this month with 96 climate-controlled hitting bays and three fully-serviced restaurants and bars. It was joined by TopGolf Monterrey in Mexico. The company expects to expand further into central Europe and Asia in the coming years.

Bringing Angry Birds into the game

TopGolf has pushed the boundaries of golf even further, launching its collaboration with Angry Birds this October. The mobile game is brought to life in a VR-like environment using Topgolf’s Toptracer ball-tracing technology. Players partner up with an Angry Birds character to earn points and stars, based on the speed of the ball.

“As a company that blends technology and entertainment, we’re always looking to create new, fun and dynamic experiences for our guests to enjoy,” said Lynda Firey Oldroyd, chief customer officer of Topgolf Entertainment Group, in an interview with Forbes.

“We see Angry Birds at Topgolf as something that does just that and think it will be a game-changing addition to our existing game play lineup.”

The company upped the ante by calling on actor/rapper Ludacris to show how to do the Angry Birds celebration dance.

Reaching a new demographic

Traditional golf courses are in serious decline with shrinking memberships forcing many clubs to sell their courses. 2020 did see an upturn in interest due to Covid-19 but traditional golf still keeps a reputation for being elitist, expensive, and of appeal to older people. However indoor golf is reaching a much wider, and younger, demographic. Firey-Oldroyd says that 50 percent of Topgolf’s guests are non-golfers aged between 18-34.

“We pride ourselves on making sure Topgolf is inclusive and we love introducing the game and the fun to people from all walks of life and communities,” said Firey-Oldroyd. “The Angry Birds partnership is an example of how we’re looking to bring exciting, new elements to Topgolf, which will appeal to a wide array of guests, including those who might not be as familiar with our brand.”

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