When Aaron Rodgers is out and about in Green Bay, you can sometimes find him enjoying himself at his local Topgolf Swing Suite. The smaller, more intimate Swing Suite is like having your own virtual driving range/video game center/sports bar. Even better, it is located on Lombardi Avenue in the shadow of Lambeau Field.
“From what I understand, (Rodgers) is a regular. It doesn’t hurt that we built it in his backyard,” said Ron Powers, president of Topgolf Swing Suite and Lounge.
The company previously opened its luxury Swing Suite simulator bays mostly at country clubs, casinos, and upscale hotels. But now the company is focused on trying to make the Swing Suite brand synonymous with pro sports, while better connecting with millennial sports fans who make up the brand’s core audience.
At a time when the graying golf industry is lamenting the dearth of younger customers, roughly 70% of Swing Suite’s customers are between 18 and 34 years old.
That is being bolstered by a partnership with foodservice giant Delaware North, which is helping Swing Suite open more locations in and around the homes of sports franchises like the Packers, the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Celtics, and the Atlanta Hawks.
For example, there is Rodgers’ hangout at The Turn: an 11,000 square foot sports bar/restaurant driven by seven Swing Suite virtual simulator bays. Located on the ground floor of the TitletownTech, it opened in September.
The entertainment venue helps the Packers deliver on their promise of making Titletown a true neighborhood for Green Bay residents, according to Craig Dickman, managing director of Titletown Tech.
“When it’s all done, it will have the combination of places to work, places for recreation and places to live, all in the shadow of Lambeau Field,” he said.
Swing Suite plans to install seven bays in Good Game, a new 7,500 square foot sports bar inside The Battery in Atlanta. The 1.5 million square foot mixed-use development directly connects to the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park.
This past fall, Topgolf opened three Swing Suite bays inside Banners Kitchen & Tap, which is a 25,000 square foot sports bar adjacent to Boston’s TD Garden, home of the Celtics and NHL’s Bruins.
There’s already a Swing Suite location inside the Atlanta Hawks’ State Farm Arena. It was Topgolf’s first permanent amenity in a major sports arena.
All told, there is now more than 200 Swing Suite bays in 70 locations across 26 U.S. states, plus another three in Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia. Topgolf licenses the Swing Suite technology to the companies that own and operate the bars, restaurants, and entertainment complexes where they are located.
“The reason we struck the relationship with Delaware North is their presence in and around major sports arenas and entertainment districts. It’s the perfect blend,” said Powers. “We have The Turn (in Green Bay). We have (Banners) in Boston with the Bruins. The next opening with Delaware North is going to be at The Battery with the Braves. That’s another seven-bay facility.”
The expansion of Swing Suite comes against the backdrop of a possible initial public offering for Dallas-based parent company Topgolf International. The privately-held entertainment giant has been in talks with underwriters about a possible IPO in 2020, according to Reuters.
Susan Anderson, an analyst at B. Riley FBR, estimated Topglf’s valuation at over $3 billion.
“Should Topgolf continue on its current growth path, this could prove conservative,” wrote Anderson.
KeyBanc is even more optimistic. In an October note to investors, KeyBanc estimated Topgolf could be worth more than $5 billion.
The company’s investors include Callaway Golf, which holds an estimated 14% stake, Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and Providence Equity Partners.
On January 20, the company will take another big step in its evolution when it opens its first owned and operated Topgolf Lounge in Kirkland, Washington. The 8,000 square foot facility will feature five Swing Suite bays. If a party wants a more intimate experience, they can close the curtain on their individual suite for more privacy.
If the Lounge is successful, look for more Swing Suite locations in suburban locations. That way the company can capture more families taking the kids out for Friday night fun as well as millennials.
So how’s The Lounge different from Topgolf Swing Suite?
“Plain and simple is we are the owner/operator of The Lounge. When you walk into The Lounge, that is truly a Topgolf experience from soup to nuts,” Powers said.