Topgolf’s Top Billing?

Over the last few years, the golf industry has watched the growth and expansion of Topgolf and other innovative, alternative golf options. It’s proven to be an excellent business model and has given birth to competing franchises like Drive Shack. While this fun and relaxed environment can certainly help introduce new golfers to the game, being on the supply side of the industry, my biggest focus has always been on the golf course owners and operators.

One of the biggest concerns for golf course owners and operators early on was whether or not the introduction to the game of golf at Topgolf facilities would lead to an influx of new golfers visiting and bringing revenue to actual golf courses.

I know what you’re thinking. Why does that matter to the Tee Time Coalition? Well, I recently learned that GolfNow’s partnership with Topgolf could impact golf courses in a major way. Topgolf, like most companies, see the value in partnering with GolfNow—and frankly I don’t blame them. But what does this mean for golf courses?

Through the partnership, Topgolf is able to promote its brand and product directly to the unique profile of guests routinely visiting GolfNow. And make no mistake about it; the audience consists of golfers looking to play golf on a golf course.

Golfers don’t visit GolfNow’s website to make Topgolf reservations.  And when a user visits the GolfNow website they have landed on this site by either:

  • going directly to or
  • by entering a golf course name in a search engine and then clicking on a GolfNow link in the search engine results. The link, which appears at the top of the results, likely, used that golf course name as a keyword to help it appear firs on the results page.

Add in the fact that there is already competition for the golfer’s booking loyalties between golf course owners/operators and third parties like GolfNow; both desperately want the transactions to take place on their respective websites.

Ironically, GolfNow now accepts reservations on behalf of Topgolf, creating an additional level of competition for golf courses. Topgolf facilities are sometimes advertised at the top of GolfNow’s golf course search results listings. Topgolf isn’t a golf course, but it competes directly with golf courses (and GolfNow to a certain extent), when golfers who are actually looking to play real golf end up making Topgolf reservations instead.

Don’t get me wrong, Topgolf can be great for the growth of the game; but it needs to supplement, not compete with or attempt to replace the golf course experience.  Now, if Topgolf really wants to push its customers to get out and play at a nearby golf course, maybe it should consider promoting or partnering with courses within a reasonable radius of the Topgolf facility.

We’re always interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on issues involving the marketing and distribution of tee times.

What do you see as the solution here? Do you see Topgolf as a method that can help bring new golfers to actual golf courses? Should Topgolf reservations be taken via GolfNow’s website?

I want to hear from you, contact me at [email protected]

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