Next best thing: An evolving (and more fun) driving range

December 22, 2018
An illustration of what could be the new and improved golf range.

Golf’s future isn’t just in the hands of Tour newbies like Joaquin Niemann, Sam Burns and Cameron ChampThis season —and for seasons to come — the sport is going to look, feel and play different. Here are our picks for the best and brightest players, personalities and technology to look forward to in 2019 and beyond.

 

NEXT BEST THING: An evolving (and more fun) driving range

Golf is in a steady state of evolution, but every now and then there’s a revolution — like the modern-day disruption of the driving range. What began in 2001 with Topgolf and its high-tech golf-meets-entertainment venues has given way to full-blown gamification. Banging balls is no longer just for wannabe Ben Hogans. Practice is diversion, and the other way around. The trend is evident in pocket-sized mobile apps like Trackman Range, which allows range-goers to trace their shots — and partake in target contests against their friends — with NASA-like precision; and in spinoff concepts like Topgolf’s Toptracer Range, a bundle of cameras, screens and sensors that can turn a plain old range — or a big-league one — into a golf-themed arcade. Throw in the rise of simulator-culture, with hitting booths that double as social hubs installed in airports, hotels and corporate campuses, and you can see where the arc of history is headed. Your grandpa’s idea of a good time on the range won’t meet your grandkids’ standard for having fun.