This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Midvale • Standing three stories high, with more than 100 hitting bays to practice your swing, Utah's first Topgolf is hard to miss.
Yet golf is only one item that will draw guests to this entertainment venue the 27th in the U.S. when it opens Friday in Midvale.
"People come here to eat," said Seve Delgado, the national director of culinary operations, who was in Utah last week training staff.
About two-thirds of the Topgolf revenue comes from food and beverages, she said, adding that around the country more than half the guests describe themselves as "non-golfers."
It's a triple combination of sports, socializing and moderately priced food and drinks. "There's often a misconception that what we serve is concession food," Delgado said, "but they'll be pleasantly surprised."
In the Midvale kitchen, four full-time chefs and an 85-member kitchen crew will smoke meats, chop fresh vegetables and grill flat breads to order for those who come to play, said Delgado, who has worked for Topgolf for eight years and opened 21 of the last 23 Topgolf venues in the U.S. At least seven more are expected to open within the year.
During a recent preview tour for media and community leaders, Delgado said a lot of thought is put into the menu to ensure items are "game friendly." Guests need easy-to-eat items while they take turns hitting special microchipped golf balls into targets on a driving range with a clear view of the Wasatch Mountains.
The food is "fun," "sharable" and even a bit "edgy," she explained.
Take, for instance, the signature menu item: mushi, short for Mexican sushi. It's made with cilantro sticky rice, drunken beans, spiced chicken and cheddar wrapped in a jalapeño tortilla and topped with sour cream, avocado and touch of sriracha.
Wings are another favorite, pressure-fried and served with mango-habañero, Asian sesame, buffalo or barbecue sauce. In Atlanta, Topgolf guests eat 75 cases (40-pounds each) a week, said Delgado. There are sliders, hamburgers, sandwiches and salads and a Sunday brunch menu. Entrée prices range from $7 to $13.
For dessert, choices include a fruit cobbler, exclusive to the Utah menu, and warm, cinnamon-sugar doughnut holes that guests can inject with chocolate, raspberry jelly or Bavarian cream at their table.
Topgolf in Midvale also has a private bar area for those 21 and older. The company, based in Dallas, avoided the months-long wait at the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control by purchasing the dining club license directly from the owner of Salt Lake City's Fats Grill, which closed last December.
Mike Pahl, who came to the preview with wife Dolores and their two children, wasn't sure what to expect. "We're more of a football family," said Pahl. "So this is really nice for those of us who haven't golfed."
The family is likely to return soon as their 17-year-old son, Alex Lopez, thought the experience was "awesome."
"I've never golfed before," said the senior at Juan Diego Catholic High School, "and once they showed me how, I love it."
Just like bowling or darts, guests at Topgolf take turns hitting a golf ball containing a personalized microchip into one of 11 targets, ranging from 20 to 240 yards away. A reader in the target detects the microchip and computes a score based on the accuracy and distance. It sends the score to the computer screen in your individual hitting bay.
The open bays are heated so the venue can remain open 363 days a year, closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas, said communications specialist Morgan Wallace.
Golf clubs are available on site, or you can bring your own; TopGolf's "event ambassadors" can explain how the game works and offer hitting tips.
Fifteen years ago, two brothers living in North London came up with the concept as a way to improve their game. They brought it to the U.S. in 2005. Brian Taylor, a host on Real Golf Radio in Lehi, sees the venue helping to grow the sport in Utah. "If you're not a golfer, this makes it fun," he said, adding, "It's a playground for adults and I'm a huge fan of both the venue and the doughnut holes."
Tee it up with food and friends
Utah's first Topgolf sports entertainment venue opens in Midvale, offering golf, food and socializing.
Opening day • Friday, May 20
Where • 920 Jordan River Blvd., Midvale; 801-208-2600
Hours • Daily from 9 a.m. to close. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Cost • One golf bay (up to six people each) is $25 from 9 a.m.- noon; $35, noon- 5 p.m.; and $45, 5 p.m. -close. Group prices available.
Food • Entrees $7- $13. Wine, beer and cocktails available; separate bar area for 21 and older.
Online • topgolf.com/us/salt-lake-city