Top golf

Topgolf is a premier golf entertainment venue based in Watford. To be honest I didn’t know anything about it – I hadn’t even heard of it! – but when I was asked if I wanted to go down I thought it sounded like a great idea. I hadn’t a clue what to expect and I’ve never played golf before but I thought if nothing else it sounded like a great activity and it would be cool to try something new. We were invited down to try out their newly launched Eat, Drink, Play deal which includes two games of Topgolf along with a meal and a drink for just ten pounds for children and sixteen pounds for adults. Their food is typical American diner style – the perfect treat food! Think burgers, hot dogs, nachos and chilli cheese fries.. and their dessert menu includes a cookies and cream pie, churros and a ‘colossal ice cream sundae.’ I promise I wasn’t just sold on the food!

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After agreeing to go down I read a little about it on their website; Topgolf is the world’s first interactive golf game, where players score points by hitting micro-chipped golf balls at giant dartboard-like targets on an outfield. I’ve heard of (what I imagined to be) similar virtual golf places in London but I’d never been before and I had no idea what to expect. I imagined that I’d be absolutely dreadful.. but I thought that at least because it was virtual it meant I wouldn’t have to spend the afternoon endangering other people, digging my ball out of a bunker or searching for it in the trees! How wrong I was though – perhaps knowing about virtual golf venues in London was what made me picture it to be almost like a giant arcade, with players standing in front of a huge screen and the image of the ball being projected across a digital screen. Despite me reading the bloggers brief and the information on their website I managed to fail to pick up the fact that this was actually real golf.. with real clubs, and real golf balls, so it’s safe to say my excitement levels grew exponentially when we arrived!

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Their space, venue and idea is amazing! On first entering there’s a big indoor area, with an American Golf shop, a bar and a large restaurant seating area with a pool table. Behind that are two floors of bays – one on the ground floor and one on the first floor – leading out to a huge field with targets. We were given membership cards before being shown to our bay on the upper floor, which was perfect. I’m not sure if prices vary but I think I’d feel a bit miffed if I got a bay on the ground floor – the upper floor is more spacious with a better view and I feel like it would make for a better experience overall. Everything is electronically registered, so when you put your card into the machine it dispenses balls which are then linked to you and your membership card. This also means that if you have to move bays (which we did when they accidentally put us in a bay that was reserved for a private event!) then you can just pick up your game exactly where you left off.

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There are different clubs to choose from – obviously having never even picked up a club in my life I had no idea which to choose but Marcus said the higher the number the easier it was to use, so I picked the highest one! Marcus doesn’t play golf either, but luckily he has friends who play, so at least we weren’t both totally clueless! He taught me how to swing and I practiced a couple of times before having my first go (and miraculously actually making contact with the ball!). To be fair, it was a lot easier than I was expecting – the hardest part was remembering to put my ball through the scanner before hitting it; if you forget (like I did a few times!) then it doesn’t register your points. There are lots of targets on the field at varying distances which means it’s suitable for people of all abilities and while I started off trying to aim for targets, I ended up just hitting it as hard as I could!

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There are five types of game but we played their signature game – Top Golf, where you score points depending on how close you get the ball to the centre of the targets. There are random extras like bonus balls and double points which makes it more competitive too! It was so much fun and by the end I was really getting into the swing of it (ha!) – it’s so satisfying when you hit the ball well. I didn’t make it anywhere near the back couple of targets but I might try using one of the clubs with a lower number next time as I realised I spent the entire time playing with the wedge!

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We had a pause between games for a drink and a meal which was lovely. There are waiters and waitresses walking around and your order is brought directly to your bay so you can stop and eat/drink whenever suits you. The food was American diner style – burgers, nachos, etc. Predictably, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking but it was tasty and just the kind of food you fancy when you’re out for a social event.

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If I’m honest when I first I agreed to go down I really didn’t think that it would be something that I’d actually end up enjoying enough to choose to go back as a paying customer but I honestly would recommend it to anyone! We both really enjoyed it; it’s so much fun and evidently we’re not the only ones who think so – it was a Monday afternoon and it was packed out so I can’t imagine how busy it gets at weekends and during holidays! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening and since there’s a lovely bar and restaurant where you can wait and relax I think it would be great to come as a group or as a family – not everyone has to play if they’re not interested. Marcus has lots of friends who are really into golf and he said he’d love to bring them and I’d love to come again too! It’s such a simple idea but it’s so clever and I can’t see how people wouldn’t love it.

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As well as the venue we went to in Watford, they also have two others in Chigwell and Addleston (and loads in the US I think!) and are looking to expand to other UK locations.

Link to their website: www.topgolf.com/uk

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