Weekday tee times at the golf course can be a challenge. The sport requires a commitment that players whose handicaps are full-time jobs can seldom make. Getting to the course, playing a round of 18, hosing the mud off—it all takes a half a day minimum. We can play on weekends, of course, but that’s when public courses are maddeningly jammed. And when we do get a day off from work, our golf buddies, wouldn’t you know it, are never able to take off too.
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We are pleased to report, therefore, that this tragic state of affairs has met its end, thanks to TopGolf, the new triple-decker golf practice range in West Houston, near the intersection of I-10 and Highway 6, which condenses a modified version of the sport into an hour timeslot—a game and a sandwich can fit a long lunch break. It’s a bit like playing the links at the bowling alley, sure, but the food and drink are better.
“Top” stands for “target-oriented practice,” which involves teeing off in an open-air building and driving the ball down the fairway, aiming at big targets on the ground—if you land on one, you score. The closer you get to the flag at the center, and the farther afield the target, the more points you get (think of it as a huge dartboard). Electronic chips inside golf balls remember who hit them, and score is kept on a flat-screen video monitor. The best part: no intimidating stares from other golfers or glowering officials chastising slow play.
TopGolf is headquartered in Dallas, although the idea was originally conceived in England. There are now three facilities in the U.K. and seven in the U.S. The west Houston location has been so successful, another one is already planned for the north side.
For $20 an hour ($40 at peak times), you get your own private bay with a driving-range mat, a table, and your own waitperson. Along with burgers and club sandwiches, the menu includes salads and ethnic treats, like a banh mi-inspired pork flatbread and a Mediterranean platter. Little duffers will like the chicken and waffles, served with both spiced jalapeño gravy and maple syrup.
Cocktails include a Dark ’n Stormy made with Gosling’s rum, and a Texas Mule with Tito’s vodka and ginger beer. Saint Arnold Lawnmower and Karbach Rodeo Clown are on tap, with Blonde Bombshell and Chimay on the bottled-beer list. Several wines by the glass or bottle are also available.
A hole in one? Motion the waiter for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot orange label. It’s so much more satisfying than a fist bump.