By Tamas Mondovics

TopgolfOutsideDuring a groundbreaking ceremony just eight months ago, local government officials, developers and business owners promised Tampa Bay area residents a future, family-friendly, premier entertainment epicenter and destination.

Making good on their promise, one of the main players of the project Topgolf, a 65,000 sq. ft. driving range and entertainment complex has opened its doors as the first installment in Brandon’s newest development, The Estuary.

To introduce and to show off their creation, the first in Florida and one of 12 locations in the U.S. aside the two in the United Kingdom, Topgolf senior executives were on hand to welcome the first of an estimated 450,000 visitors just in the company’s first year of operation in Brandon, while counting on a 10-year economic output of more than $264.5 million (direct sales tax, property tax, business tax, etc.)

Topgolf sits on a 12-acre site located just off I-75, bordering S. Falkenburg Rd., Palm River Rd. and Delany Creek Blvd., boastingTopgolfInside of three levels totaling 102 climate-controlled hitting bays, each of which hosts up to six people.

Players hit golf balls containing computer microchips that track each shot’s accuracy and distance while also awarding points for hitting targets on a 215-yard outfield.

“You can challenge your friends and family to seven different point-scoring golf games that anyone – from the hopeful golf pro to your neighbor’s 7-year-old kid – can play,” said Topgolf Spokesman Jason Evans. “This is much more than just a driving range. It’s an experience, where customer service is not just lip service. Once you spend an evening at Topgolf, you will understand why our locations instantly become the ‘go-to’ destination in the area. I guarantee you will have a great time.”

TopgolfChefsThe complex offers a Lifetime Membership for $5 that includes free club rentals on every visit, though guests are allowed to bring clubs with them if they want.

Guests can rent bays by the hour, which may be split among the group. It costs $20-40 per hour to use a Topgolf bay, depending on time of day.

And what is entertainment without a full-service restaurant and bar? Topgolf made sure nothing is amiss as the complex hired 473 full and part-time associates.

“We wanted our guests to be wowed,” said Topgolf Chef Seve Delgado who emphasized the food and beverage menu, which offers classics along with a number of new things to try, including a few regional dishes unique to each city it serves. Go-to favorites include Mushi (Mexican-style sushi), Chicken & Waffle Sliders and Injectable Donut Holes with chocolate, Bavarian crème and raspberry sauces.

“It’s bowling, meets darts, meets golf in a great restaurant where you can just relax and have fun,” said Earl Garcia, who promised to be back after enjoying his visit during one of the first open house events.

Lithia resident Carlos Colon agreed. “It is very impressive. It’s definitely not your average driving range. I will be back with the kids for sure,” he said while pausing between swings.

Approximately one-third of Topgolf’s business is associated with corporate and social events, and to be sure that there’s something for everyone, the facility also offers live music and DJs, theme party nights, free Wi-Fi, pool, shuffleboard, Xbox games and cornhole just to name a few.

The company as a whole estimates that attendance will exceed 4 million visitors in 2014, while it is building 10 new locations every year for the next three years.

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