Late Sunday night, Jared Murrell of Birmingham was counting down the hours.
""I thought, only eight more hours until Topgolf re-opens," he said.
The driving range and entertainment venue welcomed back visitors today, more than three months after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Murrell was one who was greeted at the top of the front steps by an employee who offered him a face mask before entering.
“I was pretty much coming up here every single day,” Murrell said. “I do it for exercise. It seems to be basically the same as it was, with a few changes.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order May 21 allowing certain entertainment venues to re-open beginning the next day.
Mark Grenier, director of operations, said employees spent a “very, very busy week” getting the three-story, 65,000 square foot venue ready to reopen. As you might expect, there are a few changes long-time visitors like Murrell spotted.
Employees wear masks and gloves. Each bay for guests is separated by clear plastic dividers. Workers disinfect the bays, the individual clubs and the golf balls. The menu has been slightly simplified as well, with some garnishes left off drinks. There are a few less tables in the common areas to help with social distancing guidelines. Everyone entering is expected to wear a mask in the building. Those without masks will be given one at the front.
In addition to discounts for military, police and firefighters, Topgolf also gives perks to first responders.
Walk-ins are accepted, but the facility does have a reservation system. If it reaches capacity, guests will be asked to wait in their cars until their reservation is ready.
“It’s been a long three months,” Grenier said. “But it’s been really rewarding, getting people back to work. It’s an excellent feeling, not unlike when we first opened (in 2017). There’s been good energy.”
Other patrons said apart from the masks and dividers, the experience was basically unchanged. Tiffany Dixon of Mobile was there this morning with two children. They ordered a breakfast burrito, wings and hamburger and took swings on a bright, brilliant sunny Monday.
“It’s about the same as before,” she said. “I think it’s pretty much normal.”
Topgolf Huntsville has not yet announced a reopening date, but Grenier said it should be soon.
The City of Birmingham last month reallocated a $228,000 annual payment to Topgolf from a 2016 incentive agreement after the chain failed to meet goals during construction of 30 percent participation by minority- and women-owned firms in the construction.
In a letter to Topgolf dated May 28, 2019, Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin revealed Topgolf had spent $601,919.99 with minority- and women-owned firms to complete the $24.6 million project—$17.1 million of which was building costs, while $7.5 was listed as “other” related costs. That calculated to be 3.52 percent of construction costs spent with minority firms, and 2.5 percent of total project costs.
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