By Ken MacLeod
and wire reports:
Topgolf International, one month shy from opening its first Oklahoma location in Oklahoma City, confirmed today it is already looking to expand in the state. Topgolf is analyzing a couple of site locations in the Tulsa market with the hope of opening within the next 12-18 months.
If that happens, it will likely have a competitor already open nearby in Jenks. The Muscogee Creek Nation in 2014 announced it was funding a three-story driving range and entertainment complex as part of its renovation of Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks as a complement to the Margaritaville Resort at the Creek Nation Casino.
Clay Bird, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for the City of Tulsa, said today that he had been working with Topgolf officials for more than four years encouraging them to come to Tulsa and that the company has two tentative prospective sites in mind.
Bird said the reception Topgolf has received in Oklahoma City, with record pre-bookings of events, helped with the decision to come to the smaller Tulsa market.
"Topgolf will be great for Tulsa," Bird said. "People really enjoy themselves. They’ve proven they know what they’re doing and it will be great to have them here."
Meanwhile, The FlyingTee is currently under construction in Jenks with a projected opening in 2016. Links to construction videos of the project are below.
Muscogee Creek Nation Chief George Tiger left no doubt today that his project would forge ahead regardless.
"This announcement is somewhat surprising as we originally talked to Topgolf and they were not interested in Tulsa," Tiger said. "But we’ve moved well on and we’re very happy with our partners at FlyingTee. We have a great location, great investors and we’ll be successful regardless of where Topgolf winds up."
The release from Topgolf International states: "Topgolf is the only entertainment center of its kind, offering competitive golfing games for all ages and skill levels and advanced technology to track every player’s shots. The company, based in Dallas, has 16 locations worldwide with another 11 under construction.
"We are incredibly grateful and excited for the support and anticipation the Oklahoma market has shown for Topgolf," said Topgolf Vice President of Real Estate Zach Shor. "Tulsa is a vibrant and fast-growing city with a great history, so it is a natural fit for a potential Topgolf location."
The principal owners and investors of the FlyingTee brand are based in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and had originally planned to open their first facility in OKC until Topgolf announced it was building in Oklahoma City.
Fying Tee managing partner John Vollbrect spoke with Golf Oklahoma today and emphasized FlyingTee is going forward with an early 2016 opening.
"We’ve gotten great support in Jenks and throughout the area," he said. "We welcome the competition, but we’re on the way to opening in early 2016 and looking forward to getting up and running."
Vollbrecht also released the following statement through a spokesman.
"FlyingTee will be a destination location in Tulsa for a relaxing meal, to unwind with friends and family and of course to enjoy some golf with cutting edge technology. We realized many months ago that Tulsa, and specifically the RiverWalk, which will soon be home to the Margaritaville casino and hotel, was an ideal location for our first facility and a perfect opportunity for our local investors to create opportunities in Oklahoma. We are a local company excited to be in NE Oklahoma for our first location and plan to be a permanent fixture in our community for years to come starting at the end of this year. There may be national competitors who come to this market, but we are creating a new type of entertainment experience for NE Oklahoma that is not currently in any marketplace."
Can a market the size of Tulsa support both FlyingTee and Topgolf facilities? Both companies are apparently betting yes. With the backing of the Creek Nation, FlyingTee is well on its way to being a reality at this point. With the announcement today, Topgolf could be soon.
Topgolf facilities offer three-story driving ranges with bars and restaurants and electronic games with computers chips embedded in golf balls. They have proven popular and are credited with bringing many non-traditional golfers to the game. The FlyingTee concept is similar although the balls will not have computer chips and games will use sophisticated launch monitors to track results.
Topgolf Oklahoma City will open to the public on June 19.
Links to FlyingTee construction videos: