LaunchPad Golf swings to keep Calgarians golfing year-round

Teeing off: Golf clubs sit ready for use despite snowfall at LaunchPad Golf in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Despite the snow, the overhead heating system allows LaunchPad players to remain comfortable playing outdoors throughout the winter. (Photo by Phil Wachowich/The Press)

Calgarian golfers have a new spot to work on their game this winter.

After an extremely successful summer, LaunchPad Golf is shifting its sights to keeping Calgarians golfing throughout the winter. With two Calgary locations, Heritage Pointe and Mickelson National, LaunchPad offers both golf fanatics and casual players a unique year-round experience.

“I golf quite frequently, and even last year I went during the winter and worked on my game,” said Mickelson National LaunchPad visitor Jeff Buckner, “I see myself going quite a bit to work on it.”

Unlike a traditional 18-hole experience, LaunchPad is a golf driving range with electronically tracked golf balls. Attendees play in heated outdoor suites, complete with couches and multiple video screens at each stall. The lively atmosphere with music, drinks, and food makes it an extremely unique-to-Calgary experience.

“The trackers and the screens give you the opportunity to play some games,” said frequent golfer and Heritage Pointe LaunchPad visitor Calem Schalm, “That is definitely more engaging than a standard driving range.”

The newer of the two Calgary locations, Heritage Pointe, opened its doors this past May while the Mickelson National location opened in October of 2021. The Heritage Pointe location has been wildly popular throughout the summer, and has learned lessons from its other location about how to stay up and running throughout the winter.

The Executive Chef at the Heritage Pointe, Leighton Smith, says the most common difficulty on winter days comes from tracking the ball during blowing snow conditions.

“It’s something that they noticed when they built the Mickelson location out here that TopTracer doesn’t like blowing snow conditions, just because it’s tracing a white golf ball,” said Smith.

The TopTracer technology that Smith describes is an overhead system that electronically tracks each golf ball. TopTracer additionally tracks and displays the speed, launch angle, and ball distance of each shot. The ball-tracking system allows users to play a variety of games, including the ability to virtually play legendary courses from across the world.

“The grounds crew is clearing snow off the targets, that’s more so the people coming in can see where they’re hitting,” said Smith, “That part is not affected by {winter conditions}.”

An engaging experience: LaunchPad Golf executive chef Leighton Smith is pictured in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. The in-suite restaurant is a unique feature at the Heritage Pointe LaunchPad location. (Photo by Phil Wachowich/The Press)

With the frigid winter months in mind, both the Heritage Pointe and Mickelson National venues were built specifically with the goal to make golf a year-round activity in Calgary. An overhead heating system allows golfers to continue playing outdoors at a comfortable temperature at any time of year.

“I went out there at -20,” said Buckner, “It was warm.”

Both of the two-story venues have an open indoor area with an in-suite bar and a restaurant. LaunchPad also aims to be a fully operational entertainment experience for sports fans, with multiple screens indoors and at each suite.

“It’s kind of like a bowling-type vibe,” said Schalm, “You can order food and get drinks and all that and sit in a heated stall and hang out.”

I golf quite frequently, and even last year I went during the winter and worked on my game. – Jeff Buckner

While an electronically tracked golf experience has become extremely popular in other countries, LaunchPad is one of the very few places to offer the experience in Canada. American company TopGolf has taken off in popularity throughout the United States, and the company was purchased by golf manufacturer Callaway in 2020 for $2.6 billion. While TopGolf has flourished south of the border, LaunchPad has attempted to offer a more premium experience to Calgarians with newer technologies and more modern indoor facilities.

“The value of it is for those winter months,” said Schalm, “Even at work that’s been suggested as a team-building event.”

If the first few months at Heritage Pointe are any indication, LaunchPad’s popularity shows that Calgarians are eager to work on their swing at any time of the year.

About Phil Wachowich 6 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Phil Wachowich is working as a writer for The Press in 2022-23.