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[On the Radar]: Cinderella Story, Lounge by Topgolf Opens in Huangpu

Mini Golf and More at Topgolf’s First China Expansion
Sep 23, 2021 | 12:00 Thu
Photos: Brandon McGhee
On The Radar: On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places you might like to know about. Sometimes we stumble across these venues and sometimes... we are invited. As such, these are our first impressions and not a formal review.

What Is It:

Part sports bar, part cocktail lounge, part restaurant, part mini golf range, part space-age, Tiger Woods-approved golf course VIP simulator rooms, part private event space, part arcade — more than the sum of its parts.

With 70-plus locations around the world, Topgolf is an American sports entertainment chain, specializing in golf and golf-inspired digital games, served up in a sports bar-meets-theme park atmosphere. The main one is in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, and it’s a gigantic operation with 107 "hitting bays" (like driving ranges) on four levels, a pool and private cabanas, five bars and restaurants, VIP event spaces, and a concert venue that holds 900 people, among other things.

Basically, it sounds like a place they’d make in China.

So, basically, it makes sense that they’ve made one in China.

This first one in Shanghai is a forerunner to the Topgolf they’re building right now in Chengdu, which — no joke —looks like a converted soccer stadium with an airport attached to it.

They're making a bar out of a stadium. Coming in 2022. Modern life!

So, this Topgolf in Shanghai, which is a decidedly more understated affair at only 2,700 square meters and half an entire mall floor in Central Plaza, is "Lounge by Topgolf", which means it’s a smaller version of the gigantic ones around the world and the one coming to Chengdu.

The don’t have any of the hitting bays. Which is a bummer. But they have a collection of 7 swanky "Swing Suites" — private entertainment rooms that you rent out for private or company parties — at varying degrees of financial commitment. These house the golf simulators.

And they also have mini golf. Which is key because mini golf is both rad and gnarly, and there aren’t nearly enough mini golf places in Shanghai.

And they also have a casual restaurant and bar serving food and drink, created by the talented team behind Shake, Danyi Gao and Colin Tait.

Read on for more details on all this.

Area:

Lounge by Topgolf is on the second floor of Century Plaza, which is a mall right across from the Shanghai Grant Theater at 227 Huangpi Bei Lu.

The Games and Stuff:

There are two main things you’re going for in terms of games: the Swing Suites and / or the mini golf. If you’re going for the Swing Suites, you might as well stay and play a round of mini golf as well, though… enjoy yourself!

The Swing Suites

Let’s talk about the technology first because that applies to all 7 of the Swing Suites, from the casual ones you rent out for a few hours after lunch or dinner, to the fancy private ones, for which you get a bunch of co-workers or friends together to rent out for a more involved party.

Topgolf uses "Full Swing golf simulator technology", the same simulator used by Tiger Woods when he was returning from injury — or so we’ve been told. Sure, why not! Basically, you’re using real clubs to whack a real ball at a screen, and then all sorts of fancy technology-stuff happens to measure velocity and trajectory, and it plops it down according to that on a virtual course in front of you. The most popular pick-up game for groups of varying skill levels is "TopChallenge", which is a fast-paced "Closest to the Pin" golf game with custom holes and real-world simulations of popular golf courses around the world.

In addition to the golf simulations, they also have hockey, soccer, and baseball games that work on a similar premise — whacking, throwing, slap shooting, or kicking a ball at the screen.

Also, "Zombie Dodgeball". (!) Which is exactly what it sounds like.



So, there are 7 Swing Suites, ranging from the two in the main lounge area, to a few mid-range private ones, which can also double as KTV and movie screening rooms, to the faaaaaanciest one, which is in its own private area. It also has a slick, black velvet pool table, a PS5, a private bar, a private bathroom, and a pinball machine, along with the simulator.

The Mini Golf

Now we’re talking. The mini golf is a little, half-course dealio with nine holes and a bonus 10th. It’s got a slicker, more minimal, post-modern-ish kind of feel — no campy lawn gnomes or Dutch windmills, but it’s got a nice variety of the classic looping spins, ramps, and bank shots. Fun, little diversion for kids aged 6 and up for an hour or so, for groups of two to four. Design inspiration comes from Chinese calligraphy and Shanghai architecture.

Which… sure, yeah, a fine choice.

What are they going to do? Mini golf death metal?

Whoa, that’s a good idea. Anton LaVey, Satanic ritual, death metal mini golf!

Dante's-Inferno-seven-levels-of-hell mini golf! 

No one steal that idea, that's my idea.

On the Menu

Coming from Chef Danyi of Shake, the menu is greasy, satisfying pub grub in sides and “handhelds”, into more sizable, shareable main courses. Tacos, sliders, burgers, lots of seafood and platters, but with lots of pan-Asian influences throughout, making the food more interesting, engaging, and unique than the standard burger-hot dogs-fries Western sports bar menu.

“Global classics with an Asian twist”, is what they’re saying.

Here’s a few menu highlights with prices:

"Malaysian Belacan Shrimp-Paste Fried Chicken" - 78rmb

"Pork Belly & Preserved Vegetables Gua Bao Buns" - 78rmb

"Wagyu Cheeseburger with Fries" - 88rmb

"Hawaiian-Style Fried Spam & Kimchi Musabi Wrap" - 78rmb

The drinks come from Colin Tait, and are nicely varied from spritzes and bright, summery sorts of things, into something like the Bloody Mary, which, in our vaunted and refined opinion, is really fucking tasty.

Bottled highballs - 68rmb

"Sumo Smash" - Bombay Saphire, Curry Leaf, Bergamot, Calamansi, Egg Whites - 88rmb

"Miso Bloody Ceasar" - Our/Vodka, White Miso, Chipotle, Hot Sauce, Clamato, Lemon - 78rmb

"Apples on Apples" - Dewers Carribean Whiskey, Laird's Applejack, Green Apple, Lemon, Soda - 88rmb

Damage:

Note: For all 7 Swing Suites, there is a two-hour minimum booking. These are off-peak prices. In booking during peak hours, there is a minimum spend food / drinks package that you sort out while you’re making your reservation. Enquire directly via the mini program. Search "Topgolf" on WeChat to find it. 

The Open Swing Suites, good for 10 people, are 388rmb per hour.

Standard private room, medium, (the ones with KTV and movies), good for 8 people, are 488rmb per hour.

Standard private rooms, large, (again with KTV and movies), good for 10 people, are 688rmb per hour.

The luxury private room — thats the one with the pool table, pinball, PS5, private bar and bathroom — is 1,288rmb per hour. They can accommodate 30 guests.

***

Mini Golf: The mini golf is available to book daily on-site or in advance through the mini program in half hour slots. 128rmb per person, players 1 to 4. Minimum age: 6 years old.

***

Food and drink prices are quite reasonable. You’re doing lots of sides and sharing mains, spending a couple hundred RMB per person, including drinks. Beers and cocktails in the 50-80rmb range.

Also, they’ve got lunch sets from 78rmb. So, you can take a client here for a cheaper business lunch and then see how they are at mini golf, which is the truest test of a person’s inner wealth and ability.

Who’s Going:

It’s got "team building" written alllllll over it. Or just any groups of friends looking to try something new. This isn’t the first golf simulator place we’ve seen in Shanghai — the kings of Korean golf simulator chains are over there in Minhang — but Topgolf is offering a more approachable take on it, and the food and drinks to match.

And.

Yeah, the luxury VIP party room has a pool table, private bar, PS5, AND a pinball machine along with the simulator so…

thumbs up to all of that.

Lounge by Topgolf - 2/F, Central Plaza - Full listing and details here.

TELL EVERYONE

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