History of Topgolf

Topgolf is considered by many to be one of the most popular venues around the world to play golf with friends and enjoy a night out.

Playing under the lights at the technologically advanced range while having the option to dine and drink some beverages has become a staple for golfers and even the general public. 

This article will delve into the history of Topgolf and its ups and downs through the years.

Founding of Topgolf

Founders History

Steve and Dave Jolliffe are the founders of Topgolf. In 1997, after selling a shopping business they owned, the two started to think of a way to improve driving ranges. 

The idea of a driving range that included microchip technology that tracks golf balls came about. The Jolliffes then created the game of Topgolf.

First Location In Watford

The first Topgolf location opened in 2000 and was built in Watford, Hertfordshire, a city near London, UK. 

Early Problems With Topgolf Model

The business underwent issues in its early stages. The local community and surrounding cities weren’t providing much business.

Golf brands as well as the PGA turned down the opportunity to partner with the company and provide items such as clubs and apparel.

The first location was very small compared to the establishments today. 

Richard Grogan, Tom Mendell, Eric Wilkinson, and David Main helped the brothers with ideas to enable the company to expand.

This included making Topgolf into a massive structure with huge kitchens, restaurants, and bars. The buildings became four times larger than the first location.

Expansion to the USA

Topgolf was able to secure a United States licensee thanks to Grogan, Mendell, Wilkinson, and Main. The WestRiver group became the top investor and Topgolf International was born.

Grogan and the founders, the Jolliffes, picked Alexandria, Virginia as the first U.S. destination due to how close it was to Washington, D.C.

The business was slow in Virginia, so Grogan opted to create another Topgolf in Chicago. Dallas was the site of the third location, and it became a success. 

It was picked due to its hotter climate, golf culture, and the large metroplex. 

Topgolf’s marketing and fee plan was devised to attract customers and within six months, they didn’t have enough bays to accommodate the large number of fanatics wishing to play Topgolf. 

Hourly waits became the norm as golfers and people who had never played rushed to try out the new game type.

Topgolf Expansion and Acquisitions

New Topgolf Venues

There are more than 70 Topgolf locations in the United States and three in the United Kingdom. 

Other countries with venues include Mexico, Colombia, Germany, The United Arab Emirates, China, Thailand, and Australia.

📢 Need To Know: The company is planning to open new locations in Pompano Beach, Florida, and Montebello, California.

Acquisitions By Topgolf

Topgolf has had a number of acquisitions since its founding

Some recent acquisitions have been in various sectors, such as sports technology, PC, console, and mobile gaming.

In 2016, Topgolf acquired World Golf Tour Media. The company is known for its PC game: World Golf Tour. It also owns a stake in Carvana, which sells cars.

Joint Ventures

Topgolf has a number of joint ventures. In 2021, the company’s entertainment group, TEG, signed a 10-year deal with St. Andrews Links

Toptracer, Topgolf’s ball-tracking technology, became the official range technology at the historic golf course, known as the “Home of Golf.”

Topgolf had agreed to a joint venture with Cineplex, an entertainment and media brand, to bring locations to Canada but the deal was canceled after Cineplex suffered losses in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Australia, Topgolf has a joint venture with Village Roadshow Theme Parks. The company helps run the business in the country.

📢 Need To Know: St. Andrews has hosted many Open Championships throughout the years and is renowned in the history of the game.

Tech Development

Topgolf’s technology-enabled entertainment company has a strong track record of teaching individuals the ropes of the tech industry. 

This has led to many of its employees moving up the career ladder. There are career tracks in product and project management, technical management, leadership roles, and more.

Merger With Callaway

Callaway Golf Corporation announced on October 27, 2020, that it would pay $2 billion to purchase Topgolf

Callaway was investing in the company as of 2006, and Chip Brewer, Callaway’s CEO, has been on the board of Topgolf since 2012.

On March 8, 2021, Callaway Golf Company and Topgolf International, Inc. officially issued a press release with the details of the merge as well as a formal announcement. 

The terms of the deal included Callaway issuing 90 million shares of the company’s common stock to Topgolf’s shareholders. 

Previously, Callaway held about 14% of Topgolf’s outstanding shares. After the merger, the amount increased to 51.3%. Former Topgolf shareholders hold about 48.7% of the outstanding shares of the merged company.

Notable companies owned by Callaway include Travis Mathew, Odyssey, OGIO, and Jack Wolfskin.

Topgolf sells Callaway clubs and apparel at each one of its locations.

📢 Need To Know: Callaway is one of the leading golf companies in the world, which produces clubs, balls, apparel, and technology.

Topgolf’s Ongoing Success and Awards

Current Estimated Value of Topgolf

The company is known today as “Topgolf Callaway Brands.” The total revenue is set at $3.995 billion. The net worth is $3.87 billion.

In its 2022 earnings report, Callaway showcased that Topgolf made up 39% of the company’s total revenue, equating to more than $1.5 billion.

Awards Won By Topgolf

Since its opening, Topgolf has won a plethora of awards. Significant awards over the years include

  • Forbes 2021 America’s Best Large Employers
  • Diversity Jobs Top Employer
  • US Best Managed Company by Deloitte and The Wall Street Journal
  • International Network of Golf Award – Player Development Category
  • Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America list by Inc. magazine
  • #1 Innovator in Golf Award for Topgolf Executive Chairman Erik Anderson by Golf Inc.
  • Landmark Award for Hospitality/Entertainment by the Houston Business Journal

📢 Need To Know: In 2022, the company earned awards such as Best Company for Women, Best Company for Diversity, Best Company Perks & Benefits, Best Company Work-Life Balance, Happiest Employees, Best CEOs for Diversity, Best CEOs for Women, Best Career Development, Happiest Employees and Best HR Team.


Who is the CEO of Topgolf? 

Arthur Starrs is the current CEO of Topgolf. The company employs 6,750 employees. The Princeton University graduate began his role in April 2021. He is the former global CEO of Pizza Hut.

How many Topgolf locations are there in the world?

There are 81 Topgolf locations in the world. On a yearly basis, the company hosts 20 million golfers.

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with Augusta.com. He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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