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Topgolf opens in St. Petersburg to much excitement

Players hit microchipped golf balls from climate controlled bays set up in a three-story complex.
 
Topgolf, 200 Carillon Parkway in St. Petersburg is Pinellas County's first Topgolf location. The new venue features 102 outdoor climate-controlled hitting bays on three levels
Topgolf, 200 Carillon Parkway in St. Petersburg is Pinellas County's first Topgolf location. The new venue features 102 outdoor climate-controlled hitting bays on three levels [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published June 30, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG — After a long wait, St. Petersburg at last has a Topgolf location, opened with fanfare and two recent mayors on hand Friday morning to welcome the high-tech golf entertainment complex.

The 12-acre Topgolf facility is now open at 220 Carillon Parkway in St. Petersburg’s Carillon office park. The project was originally expected to open in 2020 but faced numerous delays, including a lawsuit from nearby residents.

Pinellas County's first Topgolf opened Friday in its Carillon office park location in St. Petersburg.
Pinellas County's first Topgolf opened Friday in its Carillon office park location in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, who saluted former Mayor Rick Kriseman who was also at the Friday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony, said he had been getting asked about the opening constantly.

“People are fired up,” he said.

Welch later took his “first golf swing ever” other than putt-putt and was pleasantly surprised to approach 150 yards in his drive. “Or at least that’s the story I’m sticking to,” he added.

Mayor Ken Welch, in center, cuts the ribbon along with Ashley Rosales, Topgolf director of operations, at the grand opening at 200 Carillon Parkway on Friday. From left is City Council member Brandi Gabbard, State Rep. Lindsay Cross, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Steinocher, Mayor Welch and Topgolf’s Rosales.
Mayor Ken Welch, in center, cuts the ribbon along with Ashley Rosales, Topgolf director of operations, at the grand opening at 200 Carillon Parkway on Friday. From left is City Council member Brandi Gabbard, State Rep. Lindsay Cross, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Steinocher, Mayor Welch and Topgolf’s Rosales. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, on left, and current Mayor Ken Welch, on right, attended the grand opening of Topgolf in St. Petersburg.
Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, on left, and current Mayor Ken Welch, on right, attended the grand opening of Topgolf in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Lori Huellinghoff, 47, of St. Louis, and her husband, Roger, and their kids Nick, 19, and Megan, 15, didn’t realize they would be among the first customers at the new venue when they booked a vacation outing. She hadn’t played Topgolf before but her son Nick had, and filled her in on his favorite way to play.

“You know how Angry Birds works, you knock down the tower,” he said. “Here, you hit the ball and it tracks it and sets up a stage for different things to hit. It’s really fun.”

Laura Huellinghoff, 47, on vacation from St. Louis, works on her drive while hitting balls at Topgolf in St. Petersburg. “I took a golf class in college,” Huellinghoff said. “In college I had the best drive but now I don’t know how to drive anymore.”
Laura Huellinghoff, 47, on vacation from St. Louis, works on her drive while hitting balls at Topgolf in St. Petersburg. “I took a golf class in college,” Huellinghoff said. “In college I had the best drive but now I don’t know how to drive anymore.” [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Roger Huellinghoff, 52, on vacation from St. Louis, watches his shot while hitting balls at Topgolf in St. Petersburg.
Roger Huellinghoff, 52, on vacation from St. Louis, watches his shot while hitting balls at Topgolf in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
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Players hit microchipped golf balls that have their flight paths tracked. A big screen animates the scene to show how far they are hit. Players earn points hitting targets, and there are also virtual courses and video game-style competitions, like Angry Birds, that use the tracker to show your progress. Clubs are provided, but some golfers bring their own clubs to hone their skills.

“I try to work on distance, and getting rid of my slice,” said Dan Faiola, 51, of St. Petersburg who booked a two-hour slot with his sons Brennan, 13, and Jackson, 11, to have lunch and play some golf.

Jackson Faiola, 11, from St. Petersburg, looks on with a golf club shaped straw while getting lunch with his older brother and father before hitting balls at Topgolf in St. Petersburg.
Jackson Faiola, 11, from St. Petersburg, looks on with a golf club shaped straw while getting lunch with his older brother and father before hitting balls at Topgolf in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

For non-golfers, there are restaurants, bars, a beer garden and games like cornhole.

“I’ve been dreaming about this,” said Kiona Singleton, a St. Petersburg attorney who trekked often to the Topgolf Brandon location and now has one 15 minutes from her home. ”I Iove it because whether you are really good or not so good you can have fun. I love that you don’t have to even golf. You can just relax and get something to eat. I’ve been waiting.”

“I’ve been dreaming about this,” said Kiona Singleton of St. Petersburg at the grand opening of Topgolf in St. Petersburg.
“I’ve been dreaming about this,” said Kiona Singleton of St. Petersburg at the grand opening of Topgolf in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

She recommends playing the top second or third levels, and playing at night when the course is lit up.

Ashley Rosales, Topgolf director of operations, said that in St. Petersburg there is a beer garden that opens on the ground floor, instead of the second floor entrance in Brandon. She’s already had a lot of interest for business lunches from the nearby office complexes and she said it’s becoming a popular spot for gender reveal parties, when the lights on the targets can turn pink or blue once the ball is chipped onto the course.

Ashley Rosales, Topgolf director of operations.
Ashley Rosales, Topgolf director of operations. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Prices change depending on the day but, to rent a bay that fits six people, they start at $32 per hour before noon and go up to $62 per hour in the evening, according to Rosales. On Tuesdays, including the upcoming July 4 holiday, prices are half-off all day.

Reservations were filling up fast, but a new feature on the Topgolf app lets you get on a virtual waiting list. So instead of an hours-long wait for a slot, you can get a text to alert you that your spot is opening up in 15 minutes.

If you go

Topgolf: The golf entertainment complex is open 10 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-midnight Sunday. 220 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg. 727-870-403. topgolf.com.