Long-awaited Topgolf Fort Myers location opening this week
After not providing any updates since March, Topgolf in Fort Myers finally is doing another Monday. And it is the big one.
The monstrous facility that has been going up throughout 2021 will open Friday, the company announced exclusively first to the Naples Daily News, The News-Press and Golfweek.
Director of operations Eddie Parisi has only been in the area a few months, but he quickly got an idea of how popular the new venue could be. His wife decided to stop wearing her Topgolf gear out because so many people would come up to her and ask when it was going to open.
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People have seen cars in the parking lot, and thinking it's open, have tried to come in. But associates were there being trained.
"The buzz is definitely out there," Parisi said.
The noise is only going to get louder.
Reservations will be available on Topgolf's app Monday morning, with the first available Friday morning. Hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
"We open up an hour earlier than most of our Topgolf venues because this is more of a golf community," Parisi said.
The Fort Myers facility is the seventh in Florida, and is located at 8559 Dani Drive — a portion of which has been renamed Topgolf Way — near Exit 136 Colonial Parkway southbound entrance ramp to Interstate 75.
“We are thrilled to connect with and entertain new and existing guests in the southwest portion of the state,” said Gen Gray, Topgolf's chief operating officer for U.S. venues, in a release. “There has been a lot of excitement in the region from Fort Myers down to Naples, and we are excited to serve the community as a fun and energetic destination.
“With such a diverse golf community, Florida is a prime place for Topgolf. Home to the second-largest footprint of venues in the country, we are excited to continue fostering relationships and bringing the Topgolf experience to new communities across the state.”
Its location has been more than easy to know for anyone driving on Interstate 75 near that exit. The massive poles — which stretch up from 170 to 175 feet — that hold the net surrounding the facility have been going up during the summer.
That's only heightened the interest, if that's possible.
"Those poles stand out," Parisi said. "There's flat land around here in Fort Myers. Pretty much anywhere you go, you can see those poles, especially in the day or in the evening when the lights are on.
"Coming either north or south on that interstate, it stands out."
The interest also was reflected when Topgolf started to hire "associates." With some employers having difficulty finding people to work during the coronavirus pandemic, Parisi was relieved there wasn't any for Topgolf.
"Everybody was a little bit worried about the staffing, if we were going to get enough people to staff up," said Parisi, who was operations manager in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, another golf-crazy area. "We actually conquered that. ... We're sitting in a really good place and we're happy about that."
Topgolf was founded in the United Kingdom in 2000 and has its headquarters in Dallas. Callaway Golf announced in October that it was purchasing the company, and that was completed in March.
So understandably, Topgolf will carry Callaway equipment and also has a club-fitting component. It also has a PGA-certified instructor employed who also is involved with its event space, which can be rented out. There's an indoor/outdoor patio. Bars on each of two floors.
And a 40-foot-by-40-foot TV that can show multiple telecasts or a single one.
Topgolf also has an executive chef, an executive sous chef, and a sous chef with a scratch kitchen. The bar serves a variety of beers, cocktails and wines, and will include some local craft beers.
The two-level venue features 72 hitting bays with 11 feet from tee to tee and custom-made bay dividers.
A ribbon cutting will be Friday at 8:45 a.m. with Fort Myers Mayor Kevin B. Anderson and other local officials in attendance.
Topgolf does have a platinum membership program, and there are also promotions for healthcare workers, first responders, and members of the military. There is a half-price Tuesday promotion with gameplay.
Topgolf is not just a driving range. Its games that do involve hitting a golf ball are what's popular.
Games can involve aiming for dartboard-like targets, or hitting different types of targets, with point values attached. Others involve hitting at targets with different distances, with some targets popping up that shouldn't be hit, and points deducted if they are. Another game has different levels as players master one and move up to another.
Micro-chipped golf balls score themselves and provide instant feedback on each shot's accuracy and distance.
The bays have seating areas to enjoy food and drinks during play.
The Topgolf app can do everything from keep score, to make a reservation for a bay, to booking the event room, and more.
Topgolf is joining another area golf entertainment facility, Tiger Woods-backed PopStroke which features a pair of putting courses plus high-end food and beverage that opened last September.
Another, BigShots Golf, is slated to open in Naples as early as next year on the Golden Gate Golf Club property.
Parisi is confident Topgolf can more than find its spot among them, and the 100 or so golf courses combined in Collier and Lee counties.
"Topgolf speaks for itself," he said. "Anybody that's visited a Topgolf, they know we're all about having fun. We're not for just a professional golfer. We're here for all ages, families, parties, events.
"We're not trying to take away from anything that's been here, We just do our thing and enjoy it. This is a rocket ship. Topgolf is expanding like no other, more than ever before."
Parisi attributes that to a positive work environment that then carries over when guests come to hit some balls or just have some food and a beverage and watch a game.
"It's because of our culture," he said. "Everybody is drawn in and gravitates to the culture that we present, not only to our guests but to our associates.
"The positive energy is contagious."
And for some that's caused them to seek out Topgolfs all over the country. There are more than 50 nationwide.
"The biggest thing that makes me motivated is seeing our guests walk in those doors, and it's like the Wow Factor," he said. "They're all looking out there. Even those that have been to Topgolf, every venue has a little uniqueness to it.
"We get some guests that actually take it into a hobby to see as many different Topgofls as possible. They love letting us know which ones they've been to."
When it comes to possible competition, Parisi also knows Southwest Florida has its rainy season.
"You wake up in the morning and you've got that tee time, and it's raining out, where are all of those golfers going to go?" he said.
The retail store is stocked with an endless list of Topgolf gear, from towels and shot glasses, to shirts and hats.
"You don't have to come here just to hit some golf balls," he said.
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/