Some good news: A home-grown imitator, Luxe Golf Bays, plans to bring Topgolf ’s wildly popular driving-range-meets-dining-hangout concept to Franklin, 20 minutes from Downtown. The opening, though, has been pushed back from this summer to 2020, leaving Milwaukeeans with two choices: Wait, or head out of state.
Michael Kremer, 22, is among those who have been lured to Illinois by Topgolf ’s addictive gameplay, in which players take aim at color-coded targets and are digitally scored based on how near to the flags they can land Topgolf’s microchipped range balls. All this happens from climate-controlled bays, which guests rent by the hour and where they can order table-service beer, cocktails and food.
From our May 2019 special Milwaukee Golf issue
When Kremer and his girlfriend first made the 90-minute drive to Naperville’s Topgolf, they enjoyed themselves so much that they played for four hours, scratching a planned visit to Six Flags on the way home. Kremer, who has never golfed a traditional round, has been back three times. “Neither of us are good at golf,” he says, “but we have so much fun.”
Topgolf’s success has been a boon for the industry while demand at courses has leveled off, according to surveys done by the National Golf Foundation. Guests needn’t bring clubs, or devote half their day to the game. They aren’t expected to follow a complex etiquette.
Luxe will include a four-season beer garden (the range will be open all year) and two new restaurants. ROC Ventures CEO Michael Zimmerman says people call almost every day to check the status of the undertaking, which will end up costing roughly $20 million. He says the project was affected by a longer-than-anticipated land acquisition process.
Zimmerman owns an exclusive license in Wisconsin and Indiana to use a radar ball-tracking technology – which records the flight of each ball and allows for unique gameplay options, like playing virtual “courses” – and he aspires to open seven or more Luxes in the region. Meanwhile, a Topgolf representative says the company continues to scout Milwaukee-area locations through a local broker.
If Luxe provides “anything close” to what Kremer experienced at Topgolf, he says, “it’ll be good enough for me.”