BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge is now on the list of cities that has a Topgolf, an entertainment complex that has a bigger vision than attracting golfers.
However, there is a method to the madness, in that Baton Rouge is a big hub for the sport. Topgolf officially opened in Baton Rouge at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 11.
The $10 million, 65,000 square foot complex broke ground in February 2018. The high-tech driving range features 72 climate-controlled hitting bays, several bars, an outdoor patio, a full-service restaurant, and private event space.
Each ball comes with a microchip inside that measures distance and accuracy. A computer scores your shot based on where it lands. The hourly rate for up to six people starts at $25 and goes up to $45 by the evening.
The massive venue is expected to bring in at least 350 new jobs.
Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said his staff helped convince Topgolf that Baton Rouge would be a good fit for location number 52.
“A lot of (companies) want to know, can it host corporate events at the scale you see in really large towns,” Knapp explained. “Topgolf is found in some of the largest cities in America, so it’s really nice to see it come to Baton Rouge, the first place in Louisiana that they’re open.”
Randy Haddad, the director of development for the Baton Rouge Zoo, attended the media reception at the three-story facility located near Siegen Marketplace.
He said he was a late bloomer when he started playing. But his love for the sport led him to a living with working with golf tournaments.
The Baton Rouge native has been active in the local golf scene for over thirty years. And for six years, Haddad helped coordinate The Merrill Lynch Open, which benefits the Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
Haddad says he’s excited for Topgolf’s opening.
“This is something Baton Rouge needs, especially with how the weather has been of late,” he said during the reception that was held on a cold, wet and foggy evening.
“All of us who do enjoy the game of golf have struggled to find a place to play when’s not cold and rainy. I think it’ll be good for Rouge Rouge in general. It’s something new and exciting.”
While Haddad says there’s enough things to do in the Red Stick, he agrees that there should be more kinds of entertainment for the younger generation, likely to encourage them to stay in the city and contribute to the local economy.
Main Event Entertainment, which lost the Siegen Marketplace site to Dallas-based Topgolf, is set to open in summer 2019, another sign of the budding entertainment industry in the city.
Haddad said having golf introduced in an entertaining way could introduce beginner golfers to the sport, and possibly encourage them to join local golf organizations.
The space has potential to open up fundraising opportunities for organizations and non-profits businesses. Haddad is interested in partnering with Topgolf, and hopes to host fundraisers events in the near future.
Baton Rouge seems to be an ideal fit for the sports bar and restaurant franchise since there’s a strong college football culture.
The floor plan of the facility makes it ideal to host private events, and College Day Wednesday specials will likely pull in the college crowd.
Mills Mcclendon is attending Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, and plays golf for his university’s team. He and his father were having dinner in the Chairman’s station, an indoor event.
The junior is studying business with a financial concentration, and believes Topgolf will not only attract golfers but other businesses wanting to take part in a growing city.
The variety of seating, ranging from the bays to balconies peppered with seating to an open space for live music, contribute to a social and lively atmosphere.
So, there are plenty of spaces to simply sit back, have a drink, watch a sports game. It’s quite possible to not even swing a club, and still have an enjoyable time.
2019 appears to be a booming year for sports tourism in Baton Rouge, and Topgolf’s opening is one of the manifestations for a city that some believe has an inferiority complex. The city seems like it’s striving to offer more for families, young professionals and driving-range fans.