The owner of one of the UK’s most progressive golf complexes has said driving ranges will soon be ‘left behind’ if they don’t embrace advances in technology.
The award-winning 3 Hammers was one of six facilities in the country that introduced the Toptracer system on a trial basis earlier this year, giving golfers the ‘tour pro treatment’ as seen on TV with a monitor at each bay.
As part of the trial, the Midlands complex fed back information to owners Topgolf and were so impressed by its offering that they bought the full, ‘next generation’ package two weeks ago.
“We’ve always been a pioneering, forward-thinking venue and this, I believe, will revolutionise driving ranges,” owner Ian Bonser told bunkered.co.uk. “It’s already had an impact here – the amount of people visiting I’d say is up 30%.
“It’s a technology-driven experience on the driving range. It’s great for beginners and also good golfers to improve their game. Ranges that don’t have a set-up like this ten to 20 years’ time will be left behind.
“There’ll always be a market for those who want a basic driving range experience but the future is technology driven.”
The updated Toptracer system boasts six modes: Launch Monitor, Closest to the Pin, Virtual Golf, What’s In My Bag, Points Game and Long Drive.
The Virtual Golf mode allows you to play some of the world’s best courses at the range – yes, that’s right – and Bonser says this array of options has attracted a whole new demographic to the facility.
“Novices who may find going to the range monotonous and boring can get so much enjoyment out of this experience,” he continued. “From our side, having trialled it for eight or nine months, we’ve seen it bring a completely new person into golf.
“An example of this has been instead of the girlfriend sitting at the back of the driving range watching her boyfriend hitting balls, she’s now having a go as well. It’s fantastic.”
But, with technology being ever-evolving, what does the future of Toptracer hold?
“The next step is that an app, which is in the design process at the moment, is going to be launched,” he added. “When you turn up to the range with your phone, you’ll swipe your phone by the screen to connect it and all the information from your range session will be fed back to the app.
“You’ll also be able to download and buy golf courses on the app that will sync into the Toptracer system so you can play Pebble Beach or wherever really!”
The future of driving ranges is well and truly here and, once you’ve teed it up at a Toptracer facility, it sounds like you’ll find it tough to go back to a traditional set-up.