Topgolf tees off construction of Rogers entertainment venue

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,809 views 

Topgolf is under construction south of the Walmart AMP in Rogers.

Construction of the driving range for the 21st century is well underway in Rogers’ bustling Pinnacle Hills area.

Chicago-based general contractor Arco/Murray is leading the development of the Topgolf project at 3919 S. J.B. Hunt Drive, south of the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP). The Dallas-based entertainment company announced plans for its first Arkansas venue in May 2018.

The building permit valuation for the project is $8.31 million. The 48,000-square-foot building will contain two levels with 72 climate-controlled hitting bays facing north, with patrons hitting golf balls toward the Walmart AMP.

The building will also include a rooftop terrace, restaurant, private event space and 200 high-definition television screens. And this is not your typical bar food. Each Topgolf venue has an executive chef and chef-driven menu that taps into the region’s culinary talent.

Construction is slated to be completed in time for a spring 2020 opening. A Topgolf spokesperson said the company would hire between 200 and 250 employees for the Rogers location.

The approximately 11-acre site will also include three retention ponds, each with an aerator fountain. Topgolf is leasing the land on South J.B. Hunt Drive from Rogers developer Hunt Ventures. The longtime development company is headed up by businesswoman and philanthropist Johnelle Hunt. The majority of the property was previously used for parking by patrons attending concerts and events at the Walmart AMP.

The design plan for the Rogers venue is smaller than most Topgolf venues. That has caused some discussion on social media about whether the venue will be undersized to meet what is sure to be a popular demand from the public. Most Topgolf facilities have three levels, some with more than 100 hitting bays.

When asked what goes into the design process to determine a new venue’s size, a Topgolf spokesperson said in an email the company considers “a multitude of factors when going into a new market.” The company did not comment beyond that.

One of Topgolf’s four Dallas-area venues has 77 hitting bays. A project similar to the 72-bay Rogers project is under construction in Omaha, Neb.

Topgolf, which launched in the U.S. in 2005, has 56 venues around the world (52 in the U.S.) and hosts more than 13 million customers each year.

Erik Anderson

According to its website, Topgolf inspires people of all ages and skill levels — even non-golfers — to come together for playful competition, through a premium experience of play, food and beverage and music.

The competition involves hitting microchipped golf balls into a net-wrapped area. A target detects a microchip in the ball and computes a score based on the shot’s accuracy and distance. A nearby television screen displays the results.

While golfers are certainly a part of the demographic, Topgolf officials say the venue is just as appealing for those who don’t know the difference between a golf club and a baseball bat.

In an interview, Topgolf Executive Chairman Erik Anderson said the company’s business model transcends some of the traditional barriers of entry for golf. He made the comments last year at the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium in New York City.

Anderson said a customer’s skill level at golf is the primary barrier.

“We don’t care if you’re any good,” he deadpanned. “Just hit it out there. If it doesn’t go where you want, we’ll give you another ball, [serve] you another drink. Try again. That’s a simple idea, right?”

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