The new sports bar, explained

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In the past, sports bars were a place for fans to watch their team and celebrate or commiserate over “one too many” beers.

Led by Topgolf (now owned by Callaway Golf), a new type of sports bar is emerging — one where visitors don’t watch, but actively play, and drink if they feel like it.

Topgolf…

… made golf fun for the masses with driving range games that anyone can enjoy. Guests can order drinks and food as they play, making it a prime spot for group outings. Now, the format is coming to other games:

  • Puttshack, launched by the Topgolf team, is an indoor mini golf venture that just raised $150m to expand to new markets.
  • Toca Social offers an indoor soccer experience alongside a bar and restaurant, and just opened its first US location in Dallas.
  • Chicken N Pickle is an indoor/outdoor pickleball facility with locations across the midwest that include a bar and full-service restaurant.

The concept of games at bars is nothing new — dart boards and pool tables have been staples of sports bars for decades. The difference is that these concepts prioritize the game first, and drinks second.

There are a couple reasons for this

Millennials have been nicknamed the “Experience Generation,” and are likely more attracted to the idea of doing an activity rather than just grabbing drinks.

Secondly, millennials and Gen Z are reportedly drinking less than previous generations, making a bar that solely serves booze less appealing.

The simpler reason? Smacking a golf ball (or throwing an ax) is pretty damn fun after a couple drinks.

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