Mindlessly hitting a bucket of balls at a driving range isn’t a thing of the past, by any means. But there are dynamic, new alternatives taking over golf facilities around the country — including at three Troon properties — that can make it exponentially more engaging.
Imagine stepping onto a “connected” tee and hitting real shots at physical targets, but simultaneously playing a virtual round at a world-renowned course. Or having closest-to-the-target contests with your buddies, with the winner determined by a laser-precise tracking system. Or just hitting shots as you would at an old-fashioned range, but receiving all of your flight, swing, and shot data accurately and immediately on your smartphone after each swing — calculated using the identical launch monitor and technology that many of the top PGA Tour pros rely on.
All of this technology provides a great way to practice with real-time feedback. And it suddenly morphs your practice session into a more meaningful experience — especially when you can make swing adjustments on the fly based on your swing and ball spin numbers. Once you try these systems, you’ll realize the future of golf ranges has arrived. And by the way, your favorite drinks are being served.
Kansas City, Missouri
This brand new 52,000-square-foot facility is already the talk of Kansas City. “It’s so much more than golf,” said General Manager JW Fisher. An understatement, for sure. Situated in a large retail center, the golf and entertainment complex features 66 climate-controlled, technology-enhanced covered hitting bays and suites on three levels where guests can enjoy food and drinks while overlooking the expansive, green-turfed outdoor target range.
“Whether you’re 8 or 88, a scratch golfer or have never picked up a club, we have something for you,” Fisher said. “Our system tailors every game to fit your unique skill level, making each golf game a personalized experience. When you swing a club here, you will always feel like a pro.” Guests can also virtually play Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, or Pinehurst No. 2, among many top courses. All shots are projected onto overhead screens and tracker with laser precision via radar technology called TrackMan Range, the most highly regarded flight-tracking system in golf.
“Radar technology provides superior performance capabilities through any type of weather condition, and can be used during day or night times,” Fisher said. “TrackMan Range measures and displays the full trajectory of any shot, while pinpointing the landing position with an accuracy of 1.5 feet at 160 yards.” Along with two restaurants and bars, T-Shotz has more than 120 LED high-definition TVs broadcasting sports, making it the area’s go-to hub for live event viewing. With its capacity, it can also host corporate outings, tournaments, fundraisers and golf-themed parties.
(816) 702-1320; www.TShotz.com
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
This three-level, indoor/outdoor, 54,000-square-foot golf mecca features 60 bays where golfers hit shots on a 250-yard-deep driving range. Golfers here can play golf-themed games and virtual rounds, and rely on ball-tracking technology to gauge swing data. But there’s so much more. Want a fresh ball on the tee? Just wave your club over the automated ball dispenser. Need a place to entertain the kids while you hit? There’s a Kids Fitzone area that includes a small rock climbing wall and other activities which promote exercise and fitness. Forget your clubs? Just borrow a set for free with any bay rental. Weather is never a factor either, with climate-controlled hitting bays. A restaurant and bar also grace the facility, along with an on-site golf academy, and a club-fitting service. Although membership is not necessary to hit balls here, it does get you access to upgraded amenities. “Technology is the future of driving ranges, whether it’s a normal range outfitted with some technology or it’s a golf entertainment facility like ours,” said General Manager Jonathan Buckley, who adds that it helps golfers seriously improve their game. “Simultaneously, the social atmosphere allows us to take the intimidation factor out of golf and truly encourages anyone to try it out. Our goal is to provide an amazing guest experience and help to grow the game of golf. So it’s important for us to provide that ‘wow’ factor for them to keep coming back.”
(605) 312-7950; www.GreatShots.golf
LONGBOW GOLF CLUB
This popular public course has incorporated plenty of new technology in recent years, including single-rider vehicles designed to assist players with disabilities; the state’s largest fleet of GolfBoards; and a remote-controlled motorized caddie. This year brought the state-of-the-art Toptracer Range. Longbow converted roughly one-third of its range to this futuristic technology. The 10-tee, 100-footwide area partitioned for Toptracer is wirelessly connected so that all shots hit within the grid can be tracked from start to finish. Golfers on those tees can play various games and virtual rounds while hitting real shots outside to physical targets. After downloading the Toptracer Range smartphone app, they can view their own hitting records, games, and contests in real time, and compare them to previous sessions on the range. Tees on the Toptracer Range can be reserved by the full or half hour.
“The collection and consumption of information gathered by using advanced technology has long been a strategy to improve golf and enhance the experience for those who enjoy watching or playing the game,” said General Manager Bob McNichols, who adds that this type of technology adds “value, enabling and ensuring personal improvement as well as new ways to enjoy and grow the game. Golfers are liking it.” McNichols also says that using the Toptracer Range before a round may well give players valuable information to take onto the course that in turn improves their club selection for every shot, scoring, and general enjoyment. Longbow is Arizona’s first on-course practice range and the first Troon-managed facility to open a Toptracer Range.
(480) 807-5400; www.LongbowGolf.com