Hybrid has a new meaning.
The classic version involves blending the best technology of irons and woods. That forms a super club producing more yardage, fewer strokes and improvement on the golf course.
A different hybrid occurs inside. At the newly baptized Ocean Resort Casino, the driving range, putting green, nightclub, arcade and the ocean itself create a social landscape.
They form The Topgolf Swing Suite, an interactive blend of ball-striking skills, upbeat music, comfortable chairs and interactive, multi-sport games. This is the road version of Topgolf, made popular in 2007 as an activity that tracks the accuracy and distance of shots hit toward colorful targets. Swing Suite began taking that concept on the road last year. It will debut here on or slightly after the property’s opening.
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This is the largest venue for Swing Suite, even with four imminent openings bringing the nationwide total to 13 properties. Ocean Resort offers 11 bays, 26,000 square feet and, with its second floor location, a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean.
“This is a virtual reality version of Topgolf” says Ron Powers, president of Topgolf Swing Suite. “It depicts the Topgolf venue you would see if you were playing in Edison, Orlando or anywhere else. With Atlantic City, we also have a unique indoor experience. The climate and the ambiance, the furniture, lighting and decor, will all be upscale. This will be unlike anything the entertainment industry has seen before.”
Topgolf Swing Suite is a popular activity at luxury hotels, fitness centers, casinos, sporting events and entertainment venues. Guests can walk in or book it for corporate events, birthday parties, bachelor parties and more.
This idea captures a unique niche and contrast. Take the concept of noise. Outdoor golfers respect stillness when others tee off or stand over a putt. Professional tournament officials display large signs reminding spectators to refrain from noise.
“You’d better be heckling the person next to you if they are in your group,” Powers laughs. “That’s all part of the fun.”
So is music, a social-element backdrop to the game. It plays while competitors aim for short, medium and long-range targets, with accuracy producing points. Picture the social rhythm bowlers get as they alternate sipping beverages and throwing strikes. Transfer it to a golf activity, aimed at becoming the customer-service equivalent of a 300-yard drive. Casual and serious players can enjoy it.
“We came across an unusual statistic that says 65 percent of our guests are under 34 years old and they don’t play golf,” Powers says. “We have been told by a gaming property that 70 percent of the Swing Suite players would never have gone there, except for this. That’s a wonderful compliment.
“At the same time, 23 percent of our players bring their own clubs to Swing Suite. That’s hardly an insignificant number.”
Envision the gaming interest. Tie this to reward points, elevate players based on loyalty tiers, draw them to this spot from other segments of the property.
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As the tallest building in Atlantic City, Ocean Resort offers unparalleled ocean views in its 1,399 rooms. Besides the expansive hotel, casino and meeting space, the property features five swimming pools, including a saltwater pool, a cabana-filled sun-deck and distinctive dining and entertainment venues.
That’s a perfect backdrop with which to engage customers. Powers says participants can vie against one another or be linked to a property-wide leader board.
“This is just the beginning,” he insists. “There are possibilities to run tournaments inside the venue. The data is cloud-based. You can create competitions across the United States. You can be linked in with other casinos.”
It makes sense. Multi-property jackpots work the same way. Ocean Resort offers one more twist.
“This is the first commercial installation of our putting technology,” he says. “It has undulations and you can hit a button to change the slope, the lie and the angle any time you want.”
The green is a stand alone proposition, good for putting contests. Topgolf Swing Suite is not to be confused with simulators that replicate famous courses and use the putting green to complete a hole.