Luke Kerr-Dineen travels to Austin for a May Golf Digest look at TopGolf, part of the fast growing network of driving ranges that have taken the bowling alley concept, switched in golf and made the entire thing cool for just $20 an hour, $40 on weekend.
If you've been to one, I'd love to hear your thoughts?
It's 4 p.m. on a typical Thursday in February, and the TopGolf Austin driving range is packed. All of its more than 100 hitting bays are full. If you want to hit balls today, put your name on the nearly two-hour wait list and head to the bar.
Most people aren't used to waiting to hit balls on a range, but for the people of Austin, a few hours spent in line for one of the city's hottest social spots is expected.
Here golfers don't simply bash balls into the distance. They aim at various targets around the range. Hit into one and you're automatically assigned points that appear on the television screen at your bay. The farther the target and the closer you hit to its center, the more points you get. Think darts.
Add loud Top-40 music, a menu that wouldn't seem out of place in a New York City gastropub, a sleek design, and out pops TopGolf—a self-styled "sports-entertainment facility" that's ascending through the golf industry unlike anything in recent history.