Golf Digest Middle East experienced Topgolf in Tampa earlier this year. It shapes as a genuine game-changer as golf tackles waning participation rates.
By Kent Gray
In arguably the most significant development for the game in the Middle East since golf first met grass in the UAE nearly 30 years ago, Topgolf is coming to Dubai.
Emirates Golf Club, home to the region’s first grass course since 1988, is the trailblazer once more with a three-level, 60,000sq foot Topgolf Dubai scheduled to open at the Emirates Hills venue off Sheikh Zayed Road in 2019.
Topgolf brings technology – and a party atmosphere – to the royal and ancient game. Played to the backdrop of music in a souped-up, floodlit driving range, players hit microchipped balls to targets where accuracy and distance are rewarded in a series of different points scoring games. Results are instantly flashed up on big-screen TVs in climate controlled hitting bays where participants also enjoy food and beverage.
It promises a much-needed participation boost for the game in a region where golf doesn’t come cheap. Whereas traditional forms of the game can be an intimidating experience for newcomers, non-golfers have flocked to Topgolf given its less formal, family-friendly and fun first ethos.
Year-round programming including events for kids and families, social leagues, groups, tournaments and instruction have been promised in Dubai.
Here’s a video teaser of what’s to come:
Founded in 2000 by American twins Steve and Dave Jolliffe as a way to spice up their driving range practice sessions, Topgolf now operates at 37 venues around the globe and is said to “entertain” more than 10.5 million people annually. Following recent expansion into Australia, Canada and Mexico, the Dallas-based company today confirmed its latest partnership with Dubai Golf.
A leisure subsidiary of wasl Asset Management Group, Dubai Golf will manage the venue on a day-to-day basis, working closely with Topgolf to “ensure the culture, fun and excellent hospitality that are authentic to Topgolf are brought to the city”.
The Dubai complex, to be spread over approximately 12 acres of land, will be built in the vicinity of Emirates G.C.’s existing Faldo course driving range with a rooftop terrace offering views over the marina and city skyline.
Dubai Golf CEO Christopher May believes the venture will be a boon for the club, the emirate and the game regionally.
“We are focused on expanding the reach of golf within the region and Topgolf will bring an exciting and unique new way of enjoying the game to the residents and visitors of Dubai,” said May. “We are looking forward to the opening of what will be a very exciting addition to Dubai Golf.”
Emirates G.C. plays host to the Ladies European Tour’s Omega Dubai Ladies Classic for the 12th time this week and has hosted the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a blue-riband event on the men’s European Tour since 1989 (save for 1999 and 2000 when it was played at sister-club, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club).
The Faldo course at Emirates G.C. is the only 18-hole layout in the region to offer fully-floodlit night golf.