Meet the president of Toptracer: Ben Sharpe

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 2, 2024 12:59

Ben Sharpe talks to The Golf Business about evolving market dynamics and how Toptracer has maintained its position as golf’s most trusted range technology.

Tell us about Toptracer in 2023. What’s changed, and what’s the focus going into the new year?

2023 has been yet another exciting year for us as a brand, and whilst it hasn’t been without its challenges, it has certainly been rewarding too.

We’ve been able to hit new milestones, release new products, and host ground-breaking events. Our commitment to fostering inclusivity and community engagement was highlighted by the Toptracer Women’s Golf Community event in Bracknell earlier in the summer. An event that not only celebrated the spirit of women in golf but also exemplified our dedication to appealing to every golfer, from the most inexperienced to the seasoned pro.

Elsewhere, our teams have continued working on the Toptracer experience, and we recently introduced our game platform design, which is a big step forward for us and is something that we believe has made our platform easier to use, more visually appealing, and ultimately more rewarding for the user.

From a global perspective, including Topgolf facilities we have now surpassed the 1000 mark in venues around the world, which is a huge milestone for us. It’s evident that the appetite for Toptracer range technology continues to be as big as ever.

The real standout for Toptracer in 2023, however, has been the introduction of Toptracer Coach. It’s been huge for us as a brand, and it’s a genuinely game-changing tool designed to revolutionise the coaching experience. Toptracer Coach is a real representation of how far Toptracer has come, and how much we are capable of. It represents our dedication to supporting golf professionals and coaches, providing them with a powerful resource to enrich and elevate their teaching methodologies, and it’s branched out the audience that we’re now capable of working with and servicing. The emphasis on Toptracer Coach is not just a feature release but a strategic move to empower coaches and further solidify Toptracer’s position as a driving force in the evolution of golf instruction.

Toptracer has been at the forefront of the technology revolution both on our screens and at driving ranges. Can you tell us what the next big thing is for the brand in 2024?

Looking ahead to 2024, whilst we can’t always give specifics of what is to come, we can say that we will be taking every step towards continuing the improvement of our technology, the experience for our customers who rely on our technology at their venues, and ultimately creating the best experience for the range user.

In terms of what to look out for from Toptracer in 2024, expect current game modes to be further refined, and new game modes and activations to be rolled out.

The range tech market is a more crowded place than it was when Toptracer invented the space. What is it that makes Toptracer stand out from the competition?

There are a number of things that set us apart when we look at the range technology market, but the biggest thing that we look to at the moment is trust. We are the most trusted product in the market, both when you look at the number of venues that use our technology, but also the way that our technology works.

If you think about the evolution of technology in golf, it started with launch monitors that would measure what the club does, which would then, through a lot of complicated algorithms, try to predict and project what the ball would do. There are other technologies out there such as ‘radar’ for tracing golf balls, but we believe that our tech works the best to show live, accurate and real information. We don’t sugar coat our numbers, we tell the player exactly what their golf ball did, so that they see the apex, they see the flight, they see the exact carry yardage, and all of these pieces of information and the way we process them really set us apart from the competition.

Toptracer’s distinction lies in our commitment to accuracy, and to the range experience. It’s that combination of pinpoint accuracy and a user-friendly, clear, yet data-driven interface that puts us head and shoulders above the competition.

It’s these points of difference that mean that we can rely on our technology, and so can both our team and our customers – meaning that we can be confident that installing Toptracer will deliver results.

Is there still scepticism in the market about range technology, and if you could address those sceptics, what would you tell them?

Scepticism in the market is natural, but the transformative impact of Toptracer is evident in success stories that we see across a wide variety of venues.

Whilst it’s easy for us to sit here and sing our praises about our own product, the simplest way to address those who may not be sure about Toptracer is to show them cold hard facts. There’s definitely a level of insecurity before installing range technology at a venue – be that because of cost or any other concern, but we know from experience that Toptracer isn’t a one trick pony.

I think there’s a misconception that range technology can only work at certain venues, but as you can see from the case studies we’ve mentioned here, no matter the size of your venue, Toptracer can work wonders. Toptracer isn’t just technology; it’s a genuine investment into a facility. The tangible benefits it brings, such as increased revenue and enhanced customer engagement, should dispel any doubts.

What is the typical uptake in range usage that you see following a Toptracer installation?

This is a tough question to answer, and there isn’t a blanket response. Obviously, this can hugely depend on the type of venue you’re looking at, how many bays you have, and the area the venue is based in, among other things. However, statistics from facilities like Carden Park – where they saw an uplift of 30 percent in range transactions and 50 percent in revenue – are fairly typical of the impact we see at driving range post-install. This surge in usage is a testament to the enhanced experience and entertainment value that Toptracer brings, making it a strategic investment for facilities seeking growth.

What is the general market perception of the accuracy of Toptracer versus an expensive launch monitor?

I think the lines are becoming increasingly blurred when it comes to this conversation. Launch monitors and range technology are perhaps feeling closer to each other than ever before, but as I’ve mentioned earlier in this piece, the difference we really see is when you look at real-world accuracy. There is a reason that we are the number 1 range technology on the market, and why all four of golf’s major championships and the DP World Tour choose to put their trust in us.

A comparison that I like to look to is how cameras are used in other sports. Take cricket, tennis, or even a contact sport like the NFL – in these sports the use of cameras doesn’t just enhance the viewing experience, but it’s also in many ways the referee. We see Toptracer as the camera solution for our sport – in a similar way to how cameras have revolutionised sports like tennis and cricket, we think Toptracer is doing the same thing in golf.

When it comes to our range technology, we use real world data, along with cameras that track that actual flight of your golf ball, to show you what’s happened when you hit a ball. It’s this distinction between launch monitors, that ‘normalise’ your ball flight as if you’re hitting on a sunny range with no wind, and a Toptracer range that shows you how far your range ball has actually travelled, that we like to highlight.

Finally, we never ever rest on our laurels at Toptracer. We’re lucky to have a close relationship with Callaway that allows us to test our tech against all solutions regularly, and this means that we can improve our product and provide levels of accuracy that others can’t.

What are Toptracer doing to best prepare themselves for the future of the industry?

Technology is ultimately what drives our business and our continued innovation within the golf industry. Toptracer’s range technology is intelligent, and is complimented by robust, user-friendly hardware that is designed to enhance the user experience and increase revenue for range operators. As such, we are always looking to innovate and improve our product. The beauty of a tech product is that it’s malleable and improvable by nature so we’re able to consistently come to market with game upgrades and new modes to improve the customer experience and keep them coming back for more.

The technological revolution in golf really isn’t hyperbolic. It’s happening now, and it’s going to continue over the coming decade. For example, in recent years Toptracer has introduced brand-new technologies such as Toptracer 30, a game mode that has genuinely changed the way people practice at Toptracer range facilities, and Toptracer Coach, a teaching solution that we will continue to improve and make available to more coaches and golfers in the coming months and years. The experience is only getting better, and we expect to see even greater momentum for Toptracer this year and over the longer-term – we truly think range technology is a no-brainer for the range owner, now more than ever.

How do you see the range technology market evolving in the coming years, and where do you see Toptracer fitting into it?

The range technology market is still growing, and the bottom line for us is that we are planning to stay at the top. We started the industry, we have learned from our involvement in it, and we plan to continue its growth. One thing that we can say for sure is that Toptracer hasn’t rested on its laurels since the inception of the range technology market – we’ve innovated, improved and dedicated both time and resources into ensuring our customers get the very best from us, and we will continue those promises in the coming years.

We don’t see Toptracer simply ‘fitting in’ to the market, we see Toptracer continuing to be the market.

Case studies:

Forest Driving Range

“Toptracer has been huge in turning our driving range from just a place to practise your swing, into a tourist attraction that appeals to a much wider audience. From evening hangouts with friends, to stag and hen dos; Toptracer has allowed us to transform the driving range into a business that’s able to provide a variety of services to suit the needs of our customers.

“Post-Covid, golf has become a young person’s game and Toptracer has helped us attract and retain a much younger audience. Paired with competitions run throughout the year, we are hoping that this uptick in lower age groups will lead to not only repeat business for years to come, but also an increase in quality golfers as they come here and improve their skills.”

Charlie Breton, range manager at Forest Driving Range, Gloucestershire – Forest Driving Range wanted to encourage more people to try golf, drive repeat visits, and transform the range into a destination activity. Since introducing Toptracer, Forest Driving range has nearly trebled sales.

The Belfry

“Toptracer has gone over and above what we expected. It speaks to the pro golfer right down to the complete novice golfer. My children, who are six and eight have never been interested in golf, since installing Toptracer I cannot keep them away and they want to keep coming back to practice. We had high expectations of what we wanted to achieve, and we have exceeded this.”

Chris Reeve, director of golf, The Belfry – The Belfry installed in 2021, and range turnover has doubled in the intervening time. Impressively, nine in 10 people who use the range at The Belfry are using Toptracer.

Carden Park

“Since the incorporation of Toptracer at Carden Park in March 2022, our PGA Academy has undergone a remarkable evolution, it’s had a positive impact on our local golf enthusiasts and the technology also helped in attracting a diverse audience. The cutting-edge technology and interactive game modes have proven to be a draw for non-golfers, and enticing newcomers to explore the world of golf in an enjoyable and unintimidating manner.

“Toptracer has been a catalyst in expanding the usage and profitability of our range. Families, juniors and non-golfing hotel guests in particular, have found the technology to be a compelling reason to spend more time at our driving range facility. The detailed performance data and interactive games have transformed the range into an entertainment hub, for all skill levels. This inclusivity has not only increased footfall but also elevated the overall quality of our offering.

“Additionally, the integration of Toptracer has substantially enhanced the golf members’ experience, by providing real-time feedback, and creating an engaging, interactive environment that elevates the overall enjoyment of their time at Carden Park. In a competitive golf landscape, Toptracer has helped position The PGA Academy at Carden Park as a premier facility, seamlessly blending cutting-edge technology with a welcoming atmosphere, thus setting a new standard for golf driving range experiences.”

Josh Dhallu, golf business manager, Carden Park.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 2, 2024 12:59
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  1. Wallace December 31, 10:36

    Continues to inspire many and looking forward to the future ⛳️☄️️‍♂️️‍♀️

    Reply to this comment
  2. Burnley Leisure December 31, 02:21

    Amazing that Burnley Leisure & Culture Prairie Sports Village is one of 1000 venues across the World that is powered byToptracer Range.

    2022 has been an extremely successful year on the range with nearly an extra half-a-million golf balls hit compared to 2021.

    hashtag#burnley hashtag#community hashtag#healthandwellbeing hashtag#golf hashtag#drivingrange

    Reply to this comment
  3. adidas Golf December 23, 16:00

    Ben Sharpe – An amazing leader who helped shape my career and continues to do amazing things!!!

    Reply to this comment
  4. GC December 23, 15:13

    I consider myself to be pretty lucky to be part of such a great leadership team at Topgolf – and this guy Ben Sharpe is one of the reasons. A truly great human.

    Reply to this comment
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