This week, Nationals Park becomes the 10th location to host Topgolf Crush, a mashup of the traditional Topgolf game brought to a professional sports stadium.
Through Sunday only, you can rent yourself a pad on the second deck along the left field line and launch golf balls onto the field below, scoring points by landing on or near any of the five inflatable air bag targets.
As Topgolf continues to expand across the region and the globe, the Crush events provide something unique for sports fans.
“Topgolf is becoming more than just a brand and more than just a venue with four walls,” said Caroline Jerome, of Topgolf. “One of those cool opportunities is to actually go into these ballparks, these stadiums, these arenas, and just kind of make a pop-up, virtual experience … It’s such a lifetime memory you’ll always have, to be able to hit golf balls at Nationals Park.”
There is still room for the weekend, but you might want to grab some friends before booking. Space is rented by the bay, by the hour, running $50 for a group of up to six people.
The targets are surrounded by virtual rings, meaning you don’t actually have to hit the bag to score points (thank goodness, because it’s harder than it looks). There also aren’t official yardages marked at the bays, as there are for traditional Topgolf, so you’ll have to feel out your distances based on your initial shots. While there’s no prize for the top score, leader boards will be kept throughout the weekend.
Ball tracking is all made possible by the Protracer technology Topgolf purchased and renamed Toptracer a couple years ago. While traditional Topgolf facilities use sensors in the balls and in the targets to track where the balls end up, this setup tracks the ball off the club.
“Toptracer has definitely enhanced this experience by leaps and bounds,” said Jerome. “You really get to see your flight path to the golf ball, you get to put your name on the screen.”
While Topgolf prides itself on its food and drink options, the menu on hand will be provided via the Diamond Classics concession stands and Stella Artois Bar at Nats Park. Food options will include ballpark staples like burgers, hot dogs and crabcake sandwiches, and there will be a full bar along with both draft and bottled beer.
Standing in the bay Wednesday night to set up my shot, the guy to my left stepped in for his first attempt and immediately shanked a low liner across my vision, straight down the third base line. He hit the ball hard enough to clear the seats below, and it bounded down the chalk, coming to a rest atop the tarp covering home plate.
There is netting below, covering the lower deck as far down the line as Section 105, but plenty of other errant shots dropped into the sections underneath, bouncing off seats and coming to rest behind the visiting dugout. One player hit a towering draw, which cleared the center field wall and landed on the batters eye lawn just behind it. But any more serious damage seems like it will be averted by the limited club options offered.
You can’t bring your own sticks, and the only clubs available are a sand wedge, pitching wedge, 9-iron and 8-iron. The deepest air bag target sits about 140 yards from the bays, 20-30 yards in front of the right-center field wall. With the cavity-back, generic clubs, nobody is going to be blasting one off the scoreboard, or onto N Street SE. There is also netting draped from the Red Loft down across the Red Porch below.
Despite some storms in the forecast Friday, Jerome said she expects the show to go on, rain or shine. For more information about Topgolf Crush at Nats Park, check out Topgolf.com.