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Nighttime Bays
Topgolf lets groups of up to six people use a “bay” to hit microchipped golf balls that keep track of accuracy and scores. Photos via Topgolf.

Topgolf, which operates nearly 30 popular golf entertainment complexes globally, has arrived in the Northwest.

The Dallas-based company will open its 28th facility in Hillsboro, Ore. on Aug. 5, bringing its massive driving range-meets-bowling-alley concept to the Portland area.

Built on property formerly owned by nearby Nike, the 65,000 square-foot building features more than 100 6-person hitting bays with microchipped golf balls that allow people to aim at targets and earn points. There are also indoor games, a bar, a restaurant, more than 200 TV screens, free WiFi, and space for music shows and corporate events.

Nighttime Tee Line Golfer

Male Golfer

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Topgolf, which originally launched out of London back in 2000, has mostly opened facilities in places like Texas, Florida, and the midwest. But now the company wants to expand throughout the U.S., explained YuChiang Cheng, president of Topgolf Media.

“Portland is a real thought leader for this country in terms of culture,” he told GeekWire. “We felt like it was important for Topgolf to be there.”

Cheng said the Hillsboro venue will maintain much of what has made Topgolf successful, including “top-notch” food and the driving range bays that “make you feel like you are in a high-end hotel,” according to Cheng. But there will be Northwest flavor, too, with several locally-brewed beers on tap and a focus on the local music scene.

Technology plays a key role for the Topgolf experience, Cheng said. At the core are the high-tech balls and sensor-laden targets, which allow customers to play games with different scoring formats.

“We’re able to create a game that is much more accessible to anybody,” Cheng said. “With traditional green grass golf, it’s pretty hard and quite frustrating to get the ball into a little hole. By having this technology, we can reward the player incrementally for the things they are doing. It’s much more open and there is less friction; it rewards all people participating.”

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Cheng noted that half of Topgolf customers are actually non-golfers, and 54 percent are in the 18-to-34 age bracket. The company is helping re-shape the traditional idea of what people think about golf, which has seen its popularity dip in the U.S.

“For a lot of people, this is the first time they’ve hit a golf ball in their life,” Cheng said. “We really pride ourselves on that. We’ve created this community space that is really open for family and friends.”

After two brothers launched Topgolf in the U.K. 16 years ago, the company partnered with investors like the WestRiver Group to help bring Topgolf to the U.S. in 2005. Erik Anderson, who is based in Seattle, is president of WestRiver Group and also chairman of Topgolf International, one of three new divisions of the Topgolf Entertainment Group.

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