where their skill level may make them feel
“We are synergistic with traditional
golf,” Anderson said. “Golf is going
through transitions just like other indus-
tries. Its great to see all the innovative
things. We think we are working with a
are featured, such as Top Score, where you
try to get as close as possible the target far-
“Originally, the idea was you could
get feedback for practice,” said Erik
Anderson, Topgolf’s executive chairman.
“As it evolved, it moved more into social
entertainment, a sports entertainment
experience. Friends compete, watch TV
and engage in social media. All those
things happen at once.”
As a result, Topgolf has attracted a mix
of golfers and non-golfers, many of whom
are millennials. It is introducing thou-
sands to the game of golf.
Londoners Steve and Dave Jolliffe created Topgolf in 2000 as a way to make the
golf range experience more fun.
Anderson came onboard about 10 years
ago, when he was serving as managing
partner for West River Capital, a venture
capital firm. West River, along with Dallas
businessman Tom Dundon and Calloway
Golf, were among the investors that purchased the company from the Jolliffes.
“We spent some time perfecting the
model — we learned a lot,” Anderson said.
The model offers customers what
Anderson calls a “parallel experience.”
“Golf is linear,” he said. “You go from
the first hole to the 18th, and then you talk
about it. Topgolf is very parallel. You’re
socializing, watching TV [while you play
The concept has attracted millenni-
als — many of whom have never set foot
on a golf course. Topgolf offers them the
kind of experience they are drawn to —
kinetic, socially engaging, fun. As much
as 50 percent of customers are millenni-
als, Anderson said.
“They don’t want to get away from
No. 2 & 3
things,” Anderson said. “They want to
embrace, to be more engaged and involved
with more people.”
Topgolf — which is growing rapidly —
has been a hit with golfers as well. It still
takes skill to score well. It’s a place where
golfers feel comfortable taking non-golf-
ers because the experience is fun for all.
It’s not like taking them to a golf course,
GreatLife Golf & Fitness
GreatLife Malaska Golf &
Sioux Falls, S.D.
It’s no secret that many clubs have added
fitness centers. For some members,
it’s one of the more important amenities offered. However, Rick Farrant has
taken that concept to the max.
Under his model, members have
access to a network of fitness centers
and golf courses at a low monthly price
— as little as $29.99 for an individual.
For that price, you can play as much
golf as you want. And take as many spin
classes as you can.
In no time, you’ll be as lean and as
good at golf as Rory Mcllroy. (No, not
The first time Farrant incorporated
fitness into a club and offered low-
cost fees, he saw membership blossom
to more than 1,000, he said. “I said to
myself, ‘This is kind of cool.’”
Actually, very much so. Since start-
ing in the Topeka, Kan., area, he has
branched out and now has more than
40 courses. He’s taken some courses
that were in bankruptcy and made them
thriving enterprises again. The revenue
that the fitness centers bring in has
helped him improve the golf courses,
making them more attractive for play.
Plus, the fitness centers, unlike golf
courses, can remain open all year, mak-
ing the memberships more appealing.
Indeed, the fitness component is some-
times more valued by the customer
than the golf, he said.
“We have golf courses that have fit-
ness centers,” he said. “And then we
have locations where the main attrac-
tion is fitness and the amenity happens
to be golf.”
It was no problem getting young peo-
ple into the fitness centers, which boast
the latest equipment. The golf courses?
That was a different story. Like many
operators, Farrant found that young
people were not taking up the game of
golf. However, because the membership
price is so affordable and golf is avail-
able, he found that a number of people
would experiment with it.
And guess what. “Now they’re avid
golfers,” he said. “We’re all in this
together. We’re all trying to figure out
ways to bring golf back.”
He’s working to franchise his concept.
He’s adjusted his business plan over the
years and now has it down to pretty
much a mathematic formula.
“I’ve been doing it for 20 years and
made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “You
Rick Farrant Tom Walsh