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RFID Scores Well at TopGolf's Newest Entertainment Complex

The driving range employs 200,000 golf balls containing passive EPC Gen 2 tags read at 548 points along the fairway, to help golfers view their scores in real time.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 03, 2012Since May 2011, players at TopGolf, an RFID-enabled golf entertainment complex located in Allen, Texas, have been viewing their golfing scores on LCD screens, based on RFID readings of the balls they hit. The solution, using passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology to measure the distance that each ball travels, as well as keep score for every player, is the latest in a series of RFID rollouts at TopGolf's locations worldwide. Its newest site, the company reports, is the largest and most technologically advanced, with a 65,000-square-foot gaming area, as well as food, drink and party rooms.

The RFID system—provided by Rush Tracking Systems, which installed and integrated the solution—employs RFID tags embedded in golf balls. It also includes 50 Impinj Speedway Revolution R420 readers, used in conjunction with eight-port multiplexers provided by SkyeTek. Altogether, the facility has 548 read points installed throughout the complex, at ball dispensers located in hitting bays, as well as along the 240-yard-long fairway.


When a ball lands on the netting surrounding a target, it rolls past an RFID reader antenna, thereby identifying where the ball has landed and awarding points accordingly.

TopGolf's entertainment complex includes a variety of golf-related games, as well as food, beverages and events or private parties. Many of its guests are new to golf, and value the overall entertainment experience. Thus, the company has made a point of providing something beyond a simple driving range or golf course, where players hit balls and must then walk the course in order to measure their success. Instead, with the RFID solution in place, the participants can hit balls toward targets surrounded by nets, under which receptacles are installed to capture the balls where they land. Upon hitting the net, a ball rolls toward the nearest receptacle, passing through it like a marble dropped into a funnel. An reader antenna captures the unique ID number on the tag embedded in the ball and forwards that data to the company's back-end software, to determine which zone the specific ball entered, and thereby ascertain that individual's score. A user can view his score on an LCD screen in real time, along with those of other members in his party, until a winner emerges.

TopGolf's Allen location is the company's seventh facility. The firm built its first RFID-enabled golf game center in 2000, in Watford, England, and has since installed RFID-based systems at five additional sites, including one in Dallas. All of the solutions installed prior to that implemented in Allen incorporate low-frequency (LF) 125 kHz proprietary RFID hardware and software designed and developed by TopGolf itself, and manufactured by a third party.

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