See a preview of the Topgolf entertainment complex in Auburn Hills. We take a look inside with the director of operations Brian Birckbichler.
Aleanna Siacon, Detroit Free Press

I always enjoyed speaking with former Detroit Lions guard Larry Warford. We would talk about video games and music. We chatted about food from our native California. Our topics covered just about everything but football.

One day, Warford told me about a magical place he had discovered in the offseason. It was called Topgolf. We both loved golf. But we also loved music. And food.

Warford made the place sound like a combination of a driving range, a video game, a restaurant, a nightclub and an amusement park. I was instantly bummed that Michigan didn’t have one.

Warford now resides in New Orleans, where he gets to eat amazing food and is playing at a Pro Bowl level for the 10-2 Saints.

But Michigan finally has its first Topgolf! Take that, Larry!

I recently got a tour of Topgolf at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills and I have to say Warford undersold it. The company’s 51st location is better than I could have imagined.

Topgolf bills itself as a sports-entertainment complex and a high-tech golf game.It’s 65,000 square feet of golfing goodness that features 102 climate-controlled hitting bays (no, you won’t be cold).

There are lighted targets on the 215-yard range that let you play nine different golf games, which are made possible with 280,000 microchipped balls that record their precise landing spot. There are two 50-foot-wide video screens at the end of the range that let you keep track of a big game that might be going on.

A full array of food service is available with wait staff. The bar is fully loaded with lots of local craft beer like Bell’s, Founders and Atwater.

During the preview for media and VIPs, the place was rocking. Music was thumping on a frosty November night and it was nice to see everyone having fun doing something different. Some sports celebrities showed. Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond and former Lions running back Joique Bell took some swings. I’ll say this about Drummond’s golf swing: He’s a really good basketball player.

Topgolf is expected to open to the public in the first half of the December. A staff of 500 will service your every need pretty much all day, seven days a week. The hitting bays, which resemble bowling-alley seating if the bowling alley got dressed up to go clubbing, are rented per hour for $25, $35 or $45, depending on the time and day.

You can bring your own club or borrow some for free. They have them for women, men, righties, lefties, kids and toddlers. If you’re waiting for your bay, you can hang out and watch one of the 250 high-definition TVs. Or play pool or shuffleboard — for free.

Topgolf and venues like it that embrace an alternative form of golf is exactly what the game needs. The game needs to be easier. It needs to be fun, relaxed, accessible to everyone and less than a half-day commitment.

I love golf, but sometimes I just want to hit some balls and I don’t have 4 hours on my hands or I don’t feel like going to the range and hitting chewed up balls from the Mesozoic Era.

I hope Michigan’s first Topgolf succeeds and spawns more locations throughout the state, encouraging people to play the game in a new way.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.


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