Elected officials and business leaders celebrated the opening of Mobile’s new Topgolf facility on Friday morning, describing it as a “talent attractor” that will boost the city’s efforts to build its economy and its workforce.
“We don’t normally go out and recruit businesses like this to come to Mobile,” said Bradley Byrne, president and CEO of the Mobile Chamber. “But this is so important. We all agree, we recruited this business to come to Mobile because it is so important for the quality of our life. It’s so important for the development of our economy and this is a major talent attractor. And we’re in the business of attracting talent because we got plenty of jobs for people. We need more talent.”
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and County Commissioner Randall Deuitt readily seconded the sentiment.
“We’ve got a lot of ribbon cuttings, but this one is so unique,” said Stimpson. “We’re just very, very fortunate. Nobody does it quite like Topgolf. And I can remember probably started conversations about Topgolf five years ago.” He credited developer John Whitson for coming up with a workable plan, “And then because of the support of the city council and the county commission with incentive money, he was able to figure out how to make all this work,” Stimpson said.
In August, the Mobile City Council and the Mobile County Commission each endorsed $1.25 million incentive packages for the $22 million project.
Deuitt said he’d wanted a Topgolf for Mobile since the first time he visited one.
“It’s been a dream or a desire of mine to have one in Mobile because this adds to everything that Mobile is doing,” the commissioner said. “Like Bradley said, we’re trying to attract talent. We have jobs that we need to fill. And along with those jobs, you have got to have a source of entertaining people’s families if you want them to live and thrive in your community. So that’s, that’s why this was very important, not only for that, but it gives Mobile a destination for people who are traveling. People will actually plan their Disney trips from Texas to stop at Topgolf in Mobile now and spend the night here. So that’s important to us.”
The facility, at 1250 Satchel Paige Drive, sits in a corner of the McGowan Park Shopping Center at the intersection of Interstate 65 and U.S. 90, with its high-rise netting plainly visible from the interstate. It is the third Topgolf facility in the state, joining sites in Huntsville and Birmingham.
Director of operations Brian Walsh said that the state’s newest Topgolf facility, with two decks and 60 hitting bays, isn’t its largest. But “We have the latest and greatest technology,” he said.
The facility also has an extensive indoor-outdoor bar and restaurant area and a mini-golf course among its features. Such amenities, plus “year-round family-friendly programming” help the facility pitch itself as a “prime spot for team outings, family gatherings, meetings or really anything Players are looking to celebrate.”
But the main attraction doubtless will be the climate-controlled hitting bays, from which golfers can take aim at a field dotted with bullseyes. According to promotional materials, golfers can “take aim at giant targets on the field while playing virtual courses or Topgolf’s signature games like ‘Angry Birds.’”
On the serious side, “Toptracer” technology “traces each golf ball’s flight path, distance and other metrics,” giving serious-minded players data on what’s going on with their game.
Dignitaries at Friday’s ribbon cutting had a mixed view on trying it all out. “I don’t know how to play golf and I’m gonna go out there and swing away, trust me, because you don’t have to be a great golfer to come here and have fun,” said Byrne.
“The last time I played golf is when they opened Timber Creek,” said Stimpson. “I got home and I told Jean, I said, ‘There are other things I can do to humiliate myself other than swinging at a golf ball.’ So if you see me swinging, you better take a picture of it.”
“Not only should you take a picture if you see him swing, but make sure you duck,” advised Deuitt.
For full information on the facility, visit topgolf.com/us/mobile.