There is usually a two-hour wait on the weekends to play a round at Top Golf's only area location in Wood Dale, but soon there might be another option to experience what the golf entertainment facility has to offer.
Top Golf officials pitched plans this week for a 65,000-square-foot, $20 million driving range with a bar, restaurant and corporate events area to Naperville liquor commissioners as part of a request to sell alcohol until 2 a.m. on the weekends.
All 11 other locations have liquor licenses, and although alcohol sales account for only 12 percent to 15 percent of Top Golf's revenue, officials said selling drinks is a key part of their business.
"The site wouldn't be possible without the late-night permit," said Zach Shor, director of real estate for the Texas-based company.
Top Golf plans to build its new facility near I-88 and Route 59 at the northwest corner of Odyssey Court and Celebration Drive. The location would allow Top Golf to build its corporate events business by hosting team-building events and gatherings for companies with offices along the tollway.
"This is one of the reasons we love Naperville so much, because corporate and business events are a huge part of our business," Shor said.
If Naperville City Council members approve a late-night liquor license and the project gets the building permits it needs, Shor said construction could begin this summer. The venue could open by next summer.
"We put a new twist on the traditional driving range," Shor said about Top Golf, which uses microchips inside each ball to track where it lands and award points to the hitter depending on how close it came to a target. "Not only is it a great golf teaching and learning tool, but it's also a competitive game you can play with your friends and your family."
Plans call for 102 hitting bays with seating areas and TVs where servers from the bar and restaurant will bring food and drinks to golfers on three levels.
"Our goal with the hitting bay is really to make it feel like you're hitting a golf ball out of your living room," Shor said. "We really want you to be as comfortable and as entertained as you can be."
Since Top Golf plans to have a full restaurant, city prosecutor Michael DiSanto said its concept fits best with the city's Class B liquor license for restaurants, not the Class M license held by recreational facilities such as regular golf courses.
Mayor George Pradel moved for the liquor commission to recommend approval of the license, which will go before the city council for a final decision. Commissioners unanimously recommended approval, calling Top Golf an "incredible idea."
The word "Top" in the name actually stands for target-oriented practice, as the technology was developed in 2000 by two brothers who were bored with traditional driving ranges and wanted to know exactly where their practice balls landed.
"It started as a really cool way to practice the sport and it slowly evolved into the entertainment concept that it is today," Shor said.
Groups or individuals can rent a hitting bay for $20 an hour before 6 p.m. and $40 an hour after 6 p.m. Free clubs are available.
"There's nothing gimmicky about it," Shor said. "It's real golf, just with a twist."
The Naperville facility is part of a Top Golf expansion that includes five locations in the works and 12 more set to break ground this year. It is expected to create 260 construction jobs and 450 permanent jobs once it opens -- 120 of them full-time positions with benefits.