Drive Shack vs Top Golf – which is best for you?
In recent years, high-tech driving ranges have been popping up everywhere – and for good reason.
These high-tech driving ranges have transformed the traditional country clubs and golf courses, injecting the golf experience with technology, good food, drinks, and challenges that attract golfers of all ages and experience levels.
Top Golf and Drive Shack are amongst the most well-known of these high-tech golf ranges. While they look pretty similar – there are some key differences between the two that will likely make one more suitable for you.
Interested? Then let us walk you through the benefits and drawbacks of each of these so you can get the most out of your driving range experience.
Let’s get into it.
Drive Shack vs Top Golf: What Is A High-Tech Driving Range?
Before we dive into the drive shack vs top golf comparison, let’s start off by explaining what a driving range is. It might be obvious for some, but it’s important to be on the same page on this one.
At its most simple definition, a driving range is an area equipped with distance markers, clubs, balls, tees, and so on where you can practice your golf shots and swings. Driving ranges are often attached to golf courses but they can also be found as stand-alone facilities.
Unlike golf courses where you play a whole game with various shots and conditions, driving ranges are about repetitive shots – that is, you practice the same shot, in pretty much the same conditions, over and over again.
Well, simply put, high-tech driving ranges infuse golf with cutting edge technology to expand and improve your experience.
This technology is used in a number of ways, including gamification, climate controlling the hitting bays and adding analytics into the golf balls.
Yep, that’s right. The golf balls in these driving ranges are integrated with simulator software so you can see all of your shot data – from distance, ball speed to spin rate and so on. This allows you to play games and virtual golf courses.
As well as having this high-tech feature, these golf entertainment facilities also have restaurants and bars attached, where you can get everything from snacks to meals. Many also have TV, music and games areas, too.
Now that we know what high-tech driving ranges are, let’s get to the comparison of Drive Shack vs Top Golf.
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Drive Shack vs Top Golf: 6 Comparisons
In this Top Golf vs Drive Shack battle, we’ll compare the two, seeing how they fare against one another in 6 different categories: Ambiance, Food & Drinks, Technology, Price, Games, and Virtual Courses.
For each category, we’ll discuss how Top Golf and Drive Shack differ, how they are the same, and who takes the cake.
#1: Ambiance – Drive Shack vs Top Golf
What should expect when you arrive? The ambiance of both is more similar to a sports bar than your traditional driving range.
You will hear music, televisions, and people talking and laughing. So it’s important to bear in mind that you will not be hitting golf shots in perfect silence.
Both Top Golf and Drive Shack are outdoors, but you are covered and protected from the elements. You can turn on heaters if needed, or alternatively you may be able to use their climate controlled hitting bays.
However, we would recommend you dress for the weather. While protected from rain, you will likely still feel the wind.
From my experience, the ambiance at Top Golf is a little better – with better entertainment and higher quality tables/couches for you to relax on between shots.
Ambiance Winner: A tough one, but it goes to Top Golf.
#2: Food & Drink – Top Golf vs Drive Shack
The menu at both is pretty similar, both offering an upscale bar or chain casual restaurant vibe. Plenty of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and drinks on offer. It’s not 5-star, but its good, heartwarming grub.
Top Golf and Drive Shack both have fully stocked bars, with mixed drinks, draft beers and non alcoholic options all available.
All of the hitting bays have couches and/or tables with chairs – all very convenient to snack and drink between shots.
Another cool feature of both – you will have a waiter or waitress. No reason to waste time with trips to the bar. Place your order and it will be brought to your range station.
Don’t expect too much from the food, but order some snacks and drinks. You won’t be disappointed.
Food & Drink Winner: Tie.
#3: Technology – Top Golf vs Drive Shack
Next up, let’s discuss the technology behind Top Golf vs Drive Shack. What technologies do they use and how do they work?
Both leverage golf balls with small chips in them. This allows them to track shot data such as speed, spin, and distance.
Top Golf uses their “Toptracer” technology to enable games and virtual courses. It works by fitting cameras above the bays at the driving range to track the ball and deliver graphics on-screen.
Drive Shack partners with the leading global technology company, TrackManTM, to bring players the best in golf and gaming technology. This is radar based.
The targets at Drive Shack are round greens with large poles in the middle.
The technology at both Top Golf and Drive Shack works well. You can learn a lot about your golf game from the data presented after each shot.
We prefer the targets at Top Golf, but the TrackMan tech is slightly better at Drive Shack.
Technology Winner: Tie.
#4: Price – Top Golf vs Drive Shack
Pricing for Top Golf and Drive Shack is very similar to visiting a bowling alley. You rent the hitting bay for an amount of time.
You don’t pay by person, but the more people you have in the bay, the fewer shots they will be able to hit in your allotted time.
The hourly rates are not fixed however – they change depending on the day of the week and the time of day. For example, it is cheaper to play on a weekday during the afternoon compared to a Saturday night.
During peak hours, there is often a wait for a hitting bay. We have seen a wait as long as two hours. If you are patient, you can always hang out at the bar until they call your name.
You can make a reservation at both Top Golf and Drive Shack, but there is an additional fee if you go this route.
The mechanics of pricing are slightly different, but your cost ends up being very similar.
Pricing Winner: Tie.
#5: Games – Top Golf vs Drive Shack
The ability to play games at both Top Golf and Drive Shack is what truly separates them from your standard golf driving range.
You can play a game that rewards true golf skills or one that is more tailored to beginners.
At Top Golf you can play skill games like TopShot and TopPressure or fun games such as Angry Birds or Jewel Jam.
Yes, you can play Angry Birds at Top Golf. Perfect for kids or players just there to have fun.
At Drive Shack you can play skill games like Pro Range or Hot Shot or fun games such as Monster Hunt or Shack Jack (blackjack).
Sounds like fun, right? Different options, but the available games don’t truly separate Top Golf and Drive Shack.
Games Winner: Tie.
#6: Virtual Courses – Top Golf vs Drive Shack
Our final factor is our favorite thing about these high-tech driving ranges. The chance to play famous golf courses.
That’s right. You can play Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, PGA National, Spyglass Hill, or Muirfield Village.
Not only is this our favorite thing, but it is also the biggest difference between Top Golf and Drive Shack.
They are both fun for the experienced golfer, but Top Golf virtual courses are better for two key reasons.
First, playing the golf course is more realistic. For example, if you hit your drive in the woods, you have to avoid the trees to escape. If you hit a tree, your ball will bounce backwards.
The Drive Shack version always you to aim straight through trees and bushes. They never impact the flight of your ball.
Second, “putting” is more skill-based at Top Golf. Of course, you can’t putt at either place, but we prefer the Top Golf model.
At Drive Shack, it simply assigns you a number of putts depending on your proximity to the hole. This is fine but takes away the fun of trying to make a birdie putt or save par.
At Top Golf, you “putt” by hitting short wedge shots to a target. Hit a great shot and you “1-putt”. Hit a poor shot and you can 3-putt. This adds excitement if you have a small wager with your buddies.
Virtual Courses Winner: Top Golf
Top Golf vs Drive Shack: You Don’t Have To Be Good At Golf To Enjoy Yourself!
The great thing about these high-tech driving ranges is that they make playing golf fun and accessible for complete beginners and even those who aren’t so crazy about golf!
From beginner to scratch golfer – you’ll have a blast at high-tech driving ranges like Top Golf or Drive Shack.
Of course, an experienced player may have an advantage in some of the games, but this is balanced by the offered games of Angry Birds or Monster Hunt where anyone is in with a chance.
Even if you don’t win, or don’t even want to play, you can still enjoy a snack and a drink looking onto the well kept, lush green surroundings. Give one of them a try – you will love it!
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