There has been a lot of chatter lately about the possibility of a new Top Golf location — a video game-like driving range experience — coming to the Tacoma Dome district after the company submitted a response to the city’s request for proposal to turn the district into an entertainment hub.
The city hopes to entice the 95 percent of Tacoma Dome concert goers who arrive in a personal vehicle to stay in the district after a show to lessen surging vehicle traffic on side streets and highways, according to the request for proposal. However, no decisions regarding Top Golf or the future of the district have been made.
Meanwhile, across town at the Tacoma Firs Golf Center, plans already are well underway to overhaul the center and create a similar golf-centric entertainment experience. The 37,000-square-foot, $10 million facility would break ground by September, and open to the public as Gamerz Golf in early spring 2019.
Colleen Hall Barta, corporate development and investor relations representative for the center said it was just time to bring technology into the game of golf.
“The old days of a dad leaving in the morning to go to the golf course all day to play golf and have lunch with his buddies doesn’t happen anymore. Everyone is doing their family thing on the weekends,” Barta said. “So in order to keep up with that and the demand for technology with in the sport, Mike (Givens, owner of Tacoma Firs) went out and really started doing a lot of research.”
Ultimately, Givens decided the center’s existing 80-stall traditional driving range would serve as the infrastructure for a future electronic gaming facility. Utilizing full-color, animated electronic golf games developed by Texas-based technology company BigShots Golf along with a FlightScope ball tracking system, players can compete with each other while enjoying plush seating for six.
To serve the center’s more than 4,300 existing traditional golfing clients, Barta said 20 of the bays will remain technology free and the current 18-hole miniature golf course will remain.
Moreover, a new 60-seat restaurant and 45-seat sports bar will be added allowing for food and beverages to be delivered directly to the gaming bays. “There will be lots of sharable (food) served in towers, because you get up, you hit your shot, you sit back down — it’s food to pick on,” Barta said.
If you think this sounds a bit like bowling, you’d be right, according to Barta.
“It’s like bowling on steroids,” she said. “The concept of bowling has obviously been around (for a long time) and bowling had its due, it was probably one of the few active, family-oriented things you could do other than golf on a real golf course. But people don’t want to carve out five hours of their day for golf. They can come here, order food, play a game, and be here two hours having a super-fun time.”
There also will be a coffee stand with Valhalla Coffee and signature microbrews from The Harmon Brewing Company. Food also can be enjoyed in one of the center’s four event spaces which can accommodate 20-100 guests.
The existing pro shop will no longer have a place in the new facility, however, Barta said the new Gamerz Golf Academy will feature a custom club fitting studio. Moreover, the academy, directed by PGA teaching professional Todd Erwin, will use the same FlightScope technology for individual and group lessons as will be used in the range bays.
Whether Top Golf comes to the Tacoma Dome district or not, Barta said she isn’t concerned.
“We’ll be open with the next level of gaming technology available and all of our leagues will be in place and all of that,” she said. “So we are just going to blaze forward and do our thing. Hopefully they don’t come into the market, but if they do the other advantage we have is that our non-peak price is only going to be $20 an hour.”