Tee time is coming soon for two golf-focused entertainment complexes opening in the Richmond region.
Drive Shack is putting the final touches on its venue off Broad Street Road just east of state Route 288 in Goochland County. Managers said the venue plans to open sometime in September.
Meanwhile, managers with Topgolf say the company is shooting for a mid-fall opening for its complex at 2308 Westwood Ave. in Henrico County.
Neither company could give a specific opening date, but both venues have been doing a lot of hiring. Between the two of them, about 700 full- and part-time jobs are expected to be created.
Drive Shack says it will employ more than 300 people. New hires were attending training sessions at the Goochland complex recently, as work crews finished installing some of its lighting and technology systems.
Topgolf says it will employ about 400 people.
While golf is the main emphasis of the entertainment venues, both will pursue a much larger range of customers than just golf enthusiasts.
“You don’t need a membership to come here — it’s not like a normal golf course,” said Michael Matley, general manager of Drive Shack, which is on 13 acres just south of Interstate 64 and north of the Audi dealership that is on Broad Street Road just east of state Route 288 and near the Henrico line.
“Anyone can come in and enjoy it. We have many amenities that people can enjoy,” Matley said.
“We do want to grow the game of golf, as far as making it for everyone,” said Cliff Twiggs, director of operations at Topgolf. “Topgolf is for everyone, golfers and non-golfers. Everyone can come and have a good time.”
Drive Shack’s venue is 65,000 square feet, while Topgolf is 55,000 square feet.
Both venues have three stories of climate-controlled hitting bays, essentially high-tech driving ranges. At both locations, up to six people at a time can use each hitting bay to drive golf balls and play a variety of games for an hourly fee.
For non-golfers, the facilities offer other entertainment options, such as an arcade room at Drive Shack. Topgolf is installing a miniature golf course — the company operates mini golf courses at only two other locations — and a putting green.
Both seem to have invested lavishly in food and drink amenities in a mostly sports-bar type of atmosphere, with multiple bar and lounge areas at each site.
The first-floor bar at Topgolf has an 18-foot television screen with a second-floor mezzanine seating area overlooking the big TV, along with about 200 other TV screens around the facility.
Drive Shack boasts about 300 television screens in its venue and a full-service restaurant. It also will have a rooftop patio with views of the facility.
Drive Shack has 96 hitting bays — 32 on each floor. Topgolf has 72 bays — 24 on each floor. Bays can be reserved ahead of time for an hourly rental rate.
Both companies haven’t set the rental rates for the hitting bays at their Richmond-area locations, but said the rates will vary depending on the day and time. Drive Shack, for instance, has been advertising rates at its Raleigh, N.C., location of between $25 to $45 per hour for a bay.
Cocktails, wine and beer are on the menu at both locations, including large selections of locally made craft beverages.
Managers at both sites say their menus will include diverse fare, from burgers and flatbreads to salads and chicken wings, and both say most of their food will be prepared from scratch on site.
“We definitely want to make sure we have craft beer for people,” Topgolf’s Twiggs said. “We also will have a brunch menu.”
Matley said Drive Shack has partnered with local craft beer maker Hardywood Park Craft Brewery to brew a beer especially for Drive Shack’s grand opening.
Topgolf and Drive Shack are swinging to attract corporate events to their venues, too.
Drive Shack has an event space for about 200 people with two 90-inch TV screens, and Topgolf has an events space with a capacity of about 140 people.
Specialized technology is used in the driving ranges to track the golf balls and give instant feedback to players. Topgolf uses Toptracer technology. Drive Shack uses Trackman technology.
Drive Shack’s range is outfitted with an augmented reality system that enables guests to “virtually” play one of six 18-hole golf courses, “without having to look for your lost golf balls,” Matley said.
Topgolf has a “Swing Suite,” a lounge outfitted with a virtual reality system that enables guests to play virtual games of golf, as well as baseball pitching, “zombie dodgeball”and other games.
The Henrico site is Topgolf’s 57th location worldwide and its fourth in Virginia. The company, founded in 2000, is based in Dallas.
Drive Shack opened its first location in Orlando, Fla., in April 2018 and recently opened a second one in Raleigh. Goochland is its third location, with a fourth being planned in West Palm Beach, Fla.