With baseball season still six weeks away, 6,000 people cycled through Safeco Field over Presidents Day weekend to experience Topgolf.
A ball sails over the outfield grass of Safeco Field and careens off the padded green wall.
It’s not a ringing double in the gap. It’s Topgolf.
The shot lands just beyond a large blue target, shaped like a glorified dartboard, planted squarely in left field.
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“That’s 10 points. Not bad.”
With baseball season still six weeks away, 6,000 people cycled through Safeco Field over Presidents Day weekend to experience Topgolf — a global sports entertainment community that puts a different spin on golf and breathes fresh air into the sport.
“We are the place where millennials hit golf balls,” said Erik Anderson, Topgolf’s Co-Chairman and CEO. “You get to play the game, you can compete and trash talk with your friends, flirt with your girlfriend.”
Music blaring on the loudspeakers, the next shot lands squarely in the middle of a yellow target. The screen tracks the ball in realtime, adding 40 points to the score. This is not your grandpa’s version of golf.
It’s a fusion of bowling and darts at the driving range. Six targets are scattered across the field. The longest target is 140 yards away, the shortest is 40. The goal is simple: Hit the ball as close as you can to the center of the target. Players trade off with three swings apiece, as a screen behind them displays where the ball lands and how many points are earned.
The concept of Topgolf began with two brothers — Steve and Dave Jolliffe — in England. The brothers were hitting golf balls, and wanted to find a way to track their balls. 17 years later, the simple idea has become a global golf phenomenon, with 40 locations — 34 in the U.S.
The idea spawned the game of Topgolf, but the same Toptracer technology is used now on the PGA Tour, and has launched golf into the digital age.
“This is not practice. It’s actually playing a game,” Anderson added. “We’ve really turned it into this digital game.”
Safeco Field is the first stadium to introduce Topgolf Crush — essentially a pop-up version of the game. Anderson says it certainly won’t be the last, as the game will next visit Camping World Stadium in Orlando in March.
Seattle could see Topgolf return permanently someday, as Anderson says his team is exploring options in the area. But on this dreary Presidents Day weekend, Safeco Field and its groundskeepers got a taste of Topgolf.
“We’ve gotten to know the groundskeepers well,” Anderson joked. “They say, ‘you’re going to do what?’”
“We’re going to hit golf balls.”