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February 2020

Tiger’s PopStroke Aims for Family Fun

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By Scott Kauffman

Fresh off his inspiring Presidents Cup performance where Captain Tiger Woods helped spark the U.S. team’s comeback victory, Woods is back disrupting competitive golf. Now, the golf icon is trying to disrupt the growing tech-oriented alternative golf landscape.

With Topgolf, Drive Shack and Club Corp’s new BigShots Golf resonating with non-traditional golfers all across America, a new Jupiter, Florida-based partnership is parlaying Woods’ celebrity and passion for putting with the latest alternative golf experience called PopStroke.

Announced last October as a strategic partnership between TGR (Tiger Woods Ventures) and PopStroke Entertainment Group, PopStroke was founded by Greg Bartoli in 2018 as an offshoot from Bartoli’s Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf concept in Jupiter. The latter business, which opened in 2013 as a traditional 36-hole mini-golf experience, features upscale food and alcohol delivered to your hole, full-service restaurant called Burger Shack, 3 Scoops Ice Cream parlor, 15 big-screen televisions and a movie projector for all generations to enjoy.

PopStroke is the “refined, more modern version” of Lighthouse Cove, according to Bartoli, all the way down to the professionally designed putting courses that will be exclusively created by Woods’s TGR Design group at all future locations. The company’s first PopStroke facility opened in nearby Port St. Lucie, Florida, and the company has two others in development in Fort Myers, Florida, and Scottsdale, Arizona.

“This is a natural extension of my golf course design philosophy and my TGR Design business,” said Woods, who is a full-fledged financial partner in the business, according to Bartoli. “Our goal has always been to design courses that bring people together and are fun for golfers of all abilities and ages.”

After the concept’s initial announcement, Woods went on to say: “Some of my happiest memories are spending time with my pops on the golf course having putting contests. I’m looking forward to others enjoying time with their kids at PopStroke. This is a new way for individuals to experience the game of golf. It’s about bringing people together.”

In mid-December, Bartoli said PopStroke was “engaged in active conversations regarding numerous future locations in the Orlando market as well as several other Florida markets” and anticipated having some official news in time for the new year.

 “(Adventure Cove) really took off on the putting side and became a mainstay and destination within the community,” Bartoli said. “It brought out people of all ages and it was fun to see – unlike Topgolf and Drive Shack, which are more geared towards millennials – five-year-olds putting with their 75-year-old grandparents. That’s really the genesis behind PopStroke. Kind of taking Lighthouse Cove and making it more technology advanced than traditional mini-golf would be.”

Indeed, one of the cooler tech-infused experiences is the patent-pending iPutt ball, which doubles as an electronic scorekeeping golf ball. According to Bartoli, the company is in the process of integrating the ball with the PopStroke app and point-of-sale network, further enhancing the overall experience. For instance, imagine having the iPutt ball transmit scores electronically to the Apple and Android-compatible app and suddenly showing up on a Jumbotron scoreboard, allowing players to compete against each other in real time like a regular pro golf tournament. Players also will be able to earn “Pop Bucks” through the PopStroke loyalty rewards app program based on how one stacks up that day against other competition.

When asked what distinguishes PopStroke from the other established alternative golf outlets, Bartoli says, PopStroke is “really about golf.

“That’s what separates us from the other businesses,” he added. “The other ones are purely about entertainment and gaming. We’re giving people the option to play golf and get a real experience out of it, while adding in the music and the technology and the food and beverage. That’s the biggest difference.”

Scott Kauffman is a golf business writer and the managing director of Aloha Media Group, and is regular technology columnist for Golf Business. You can contact him with tech news at iwritegolf@gmail.com.

 

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