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Fore! Clearing the way for TopGolf Cranston

From Davol Medical Services – to Citizens Bank – to RI COVID testing and vaccinating – to…TopGolf. The large white building on Sockanosset Cross Roads is about to make a sporty transition.

Land clearing has begun, after 2 to 3 years of hearings, meetings, and banter in the community, including a city council “meet the candidates” event where promises were made to the community of “no TopGolf”, preserved on video. That event was followed within a few months by the head of TopGolf coming to the Cranston City Council for a unanimous vote to approve the project. An educable moment for activists in the community. It’s been so long since the first talk of TopGolf came to Cranston that some people don’t remember and are asking what is being built.

With the passage of time, oppositional voices are less and the community is watching in hopes that the massive facility planned with netting held up by poles over 185 feet tall and lights just as tall do not compromise the boutique location and success of the greater Garden City area. Rumors that COSTCO will join TopGolf in the “behind Shaws” location also continue to swirl. Traffic continues to be the community’s biggest concern, with even the RI DOT declaring the intersections of Sockanosset at both Reservoir Avenue and Pontiac Avenue as “failed intersections” – with little wiggle room to adjust them.

The very beginning of the construction process is visible behind the big white building where thousands of Rhode Islanders have been going to either be tested or vaccinated – and a few dozen even were “hospitalized” there when the facility was temporarily turned into an off-site overflow COVID hospital. If plans stay the same, the “front” of the white building will be rented to an unrelated business or as an office location. There is no opening date yet stated, and TopGolf corporate has not responded to our requests for information, but sources do confirm that construction is underway.

What might be getting the most attention is the reconstruction of Route 37 to add a lane and reconfigure the on and off ramps from Route 95. There is also indication that the corner of Sockanosset and Pontiac is being widened to accommodate the additional traffic.

With plans for a recreational marijuana center rumored to be coming for an undisclosed location off Pontiac Avenue, congestion at the exit may be worse than developers imagine. Garden City neighbors have been promised a traffic study would be done prior to construction by the Carpionato Corporation and RIDOT, but no traffic study has been done to date, specific to adding TopGolf.

Another major construction job is the rebuilding of Garden City School, nearly doubling its size and expected to take in students from another elementary school. Again, traffic in an area not meant to handle it, but with the school being elementary there should not be a lot of evening and weekend use.

Those who have visited TopGolf locations in the US do report that the venue is fun and different. Pricepoints are not insignificant. Some locations end up adding music venues and even outdoor golfing for families, as well as a destination for birthday parties, and group events. The destination will be unique in New England, with the closest TopGolf in Delaware.

Rhode Island connection

In 2016 a sizable minority investment by Providence Equity Partners in TopGolf’s parent company took place. Providence is a leading global private equity firm with $45 billion in assets under management and a focus on media, communications, education and information companies (https://www.provequity.com/news/topgolf-announces-major-investment-providence-equity)

“Shovels” in the ground

To experience TopGolf, a digital experience is already in Rhode Island

At The Graduate Hotel in Providence, what might be called “TopGolf Lite” – a subgroup of TopGolf called TopGolf Swing Suite – was quietly set up with no official announcements. This location joins about 100 other Swing Suites open in the US. Set up at entertainment venues (Dave & Busters comes to mind), Swing Suite offers people who participate, “Everything you love about TopGolf in a luxury suite”.

Promotional materials note, “Through the premium experience of play, food and beverage and music, Topgolf inspires people of all ages and skill levels to come together for playful competition. The newest extension of Topgolf combines a simulated Topgolf experience with the luxurious atmospheres of hospitality and entertainment venues across the country. Each Topgolf Swing Suite location features a massive screen with a variety of multi-sport games, as well as HDTVs, comfortable lounge seating and food and beverage offerings.

When we spoke to The Graduate they said that the Swing Suite option has become quite popular and people really seem to like it – “This exciting, immersive golf experience is the perfect spot for your next work or social gathering. Rent out a hitting bay (or the whole space!) and host a party, hang with pals or even practice your drive during the off-season. Food and drinks are available from Reiners Bar and Game Room, at The Graduate.  

Pricing is $25 per person, per hour

Reservations: For Topgolf® Swing Suite® reservations, please call (401) 900-1922.

18-Hole Course11 Hour
18-Hole Course22 Hours
18-Hole Course34 Hours
Top Golf Target Games890 Minutes (24 golf shots per player)
Baseball Pitching4-61-Hour

This is a developing story.

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