Topgolf: Building a Global Sports Entertainment Community
Topgolf started with the simple concept that it was time to rethink the “joyless mud fields” of golf—and apply microchip technology to create new frontiers in the game. Topgolf Watford, the company’s first facility, opened in 2000 northwest of central London. Topgolf differentiated itself from traditional driving ranges by offering covered bays, multiple screens, patios and cafés—in addition to new golf accuracy challenges based on scoring tied to technology, and a broader entertainment model.
By early 2020, the company had expanded to 56 facilities worldwide, including 52 in the United States, along with new media and entertainment ventures. Topgolf had gone from a concept that didn’t quite fit the traditional golf course model to a global sports entertainment company with a worldwide audience of 100 million, and strategic partnerships with the PGA and LPGA tours.
This case study takes students through the expansion process, providing insights into the thinking behind Topgolf decisions. The case takes a step-by-step approach, after the realization that a “build it and they will come” philosophy would not generate the desired results.
This case is designed to take students through the development of a new technology-driven company seeking to establish value out of an existing game: golf. Students discuss Topgolf’s trajectory to look at the steps a new company might take, and understand the critical decision making needed to launch a global company with facilities in several countries.