They say it's not whether you win or lose that matters, but rather how you play the game. Well, TopGolf is a game of its own, and the TopGolf Tour offers a now-worldwide alternative version to the already immensely popular one found in Washington County — and it's sending two lucky individuals to Vegas for a chance to win $50,000.
TopGolf, which is entering its second year at its location in Hillsboro, held its second annual TopGolf Tour qualifier Sunday, July 16. While Eric Wilsey and Jacob Berg from Camas and Vancouver, Wash., won the event, Andy Lawson and Eric Tripp made the biggest sacrifice in an effort to do so.
The Utah residents, who qualified for the TopGolf Tour nationals in Las Vegas last year, finished second in the Salt Lake City event Saturday, July 15. In the aftermath, a TopGolf associate light-heartedly mentioned that the Hillsboro event was being held the next day and suggested that as an option — something Lawson and Tripp took to heart.
"We lost by two points and it stung," said Tripp. "We had such a good time last year, so we looked at each other and were like, 'let's do it!"
And they did, driving 11 hours and arriving late at night, sleeping in the TopGolf parking lot until the time of the event. There was no Hollywood ending, as the two failed to advance to the final round, finishing just outside the cutline. Despite the overnighter and the disappointing finish, Tripp seemed to enjoy the experience of it all.
"What I love about this, and TopGolf in general, is that you don't have to be a great golfer to compete," Tripp said. "Andy's a great golfer, but I'm a mid-handicapper who's only been playing for a few years. I was a runner and played basketball growing up, but to be able to come out here and hit these shots is cool."
Contestants paid $85 to enter and received breakfast, an Under Armour T-Shirt, three hours of game play and a $5 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It's an alternate shot contest, with participants competing in three of TopGolf's unique game formats: TopGolf, Top Pressure Yellow and Top Contender Team. Games are designed to test a players skill and accuracy, both up close and at a distance, with point values increasing based on difficulty.
The top eight finishers advanced to the second round, from which the winner was crowned champion and will receive a free trip to Las Vegas to compete in the TopGolf Tour finals to compete for a chance to win $50,000.
Winners may forfeit their amateur status for a year or have the option of bypassing the prize money and free trip in order to maintain their competitive status, a decision that must be made prior to the event. None of that seemed to be a concern for friends and coworkers, Jessica Potter and Eddie Ysunza.
"I just love golfing and live near here and thought it would be fun to come out and spend my Sunday morning," said Ysunza. "And look at this weather — it's perfect."
Potter echoed his sentiment about the experience and was simply happy to be swinging the clubs.
"I played in college at San Francisco University, but hadn't played for a while and thought it would be fun," Potter said, "and it is."
TopGolf Marketing Manager Ariel Dupes said that due to the timing of this year's event, numbers were slightly down from last year, but the turnout remained good and fun was still had by those who competed.
"It's just a great event!," Dupes said.
The TopGolf Tour has qualifiers in 20 different cities, including for the first time one in London, England, which was held July 8.