By Lynette Carrington
Topgolf’s culinary program is a slice above
Since opening four years ago, Topgolf Scottsdale has built a reputation as a family-friendly place with fun and creative takes on golf. Both seasoned and novice golfers step into the playing bays and swing for the round targets out on the playing field. Sure, the idea is to rack up the best score in the group, but everywhere you look, people are enjoying cocktails, shared plates and entrees while having laughs, cheering on their friends, or perhaps giving each other a good-natured ribbing about lackluster golfing skills. When it comes to the venue’s food program, one might say that Topgolf is wearing the culinary equivalent of the Masters Tournament signature green jacket.
Brian Riesenberg teed off his career with Darden Restaurants, staying for 21 years prior to becoming the operations manager at Topgolf Scottsdale last year. “I love golf and I love operations and being able to manage, develop and build teams,” Riesenberg says. “Here, we have a very vibrant culture, and we’re the best. We’re the gold standard and our culinary program is part of that.”
Topgolf executive chef Kenny Laird started his career at the Topgolf in Scottdale. “I go wherever Topgolf needs me,” says Laird, who also helped open Topgolf locations in Colorado, Las Vegas and New Jersey. He is currently helping to bring a new executive chef on board at the Scottsdale location, then he’ll begin working at the Topgolf that’s opening in Glendale later this year.
“We are a culinarily-defined company,” Laird explains. “We’re based on that, and all our systems and kitchens are very similar. We’re working smarter and the fact that we run a majority from-scratch kitchen says a lot about what we’re able to do at Topgolf.”
Laird goes on to say that fresh ingredients, house-made sauces and dressings, and thoughtful recipes put the menu in a league of its own compared to other entertainment venues in the Valley.
There is nothing ordinary about the Topgolf menu. Think fresh, engaging and fun. Much thought and preparation has gone into the menu, and that includes the cocktails. One particularly creative cocktail on the menu is the mai colada and it reflects summer beautifully in every sip. The sinfully delicious cocktail includes Malibu coconut rum and Blue Chair Bay banana rum with Monin almond orgeat, pineapple and lime juices, a float of dark rum, a sprig of mint and a coconut cream popsicle dunked into the drink to complete this party in a glass. A few more seasonally themed drinks include a cucumber melon cooler and a “frose” with Beso del Sol pink rose sangria, Bollicini prosecco and a massive ice cube made from pureed strawberries and raspberries. Of course, what would a day of golfing be without an Arnold Palmer Spiked? Other cocktails include a variety of Bloody Marys, margaritas and mules, plus a robust assortment of spirits, beer and wine.
Trisha Smith, senior marketing director of Topgolf in Arizona, says the drink menu contains some thoughtful alcohol-free concoctions, as well. “We’ve recently gotten into the mocktail world,” Smith says. “These drinks are like what you would get at the bar but without the alcohol. Our guests that don’t want alcohol but want to be part of the party can size up our drinks.”
Although a good portion of the menu is the same across all Topgolf locations, there are seasonal dishes available for a limited time only. There are regional dishes, too, like the Strawberry Fields salad with greens, strawberries, blueberries, candied pecans and blue cheese crumbles kissed with a low-fat balsamic dressing. Other new offerings include chicken lettuce wraps with a spicy ginger dipping sauce and the cookie crumble sundae. Are you eating gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian? Just let your designated server know and they will help you find dishes that work for your dietary needs.
“Dishes that are sharable are big on our menu, too,” Laird adds. “They’re delicious and easy for several people to share while they’re playing.” One such sharable is the jumbo pretzel board. The massive dish could easily be enjoyed by four to six people and includes one of the biggest pretzels you’ll ever see with Genoa salami, sausage, prosciutto, pepper jack and cheddar cheeses, candied pecans, gala apples, red grapes and blackberries piled into every nook and cranny of the pretzel and served with Dijon mustard and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cheese sauce.
Other sharable plates and entrees include bacon mac ‘n’ cheese spring rolls, cheese fries, hummus, signature nachos, quesadillas, burgers, flatbreads, sliders, salads and sandwiches. Desserts include silver dollar s’mores, sharable milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Or hit a literal hole-in-one with your group with injectable doughnut holes that guests fill with chocolate, Bavarian cream or raspberry jelly. Naturally, the doughnuts are a huge hit with kids.
“We always want to make sure there is something on the menu that appeals to everybody,” Smith said. “We want our culinary experience to be elevated beyond what you would see at a bar or what you would expect. As our brand has continued to grow, we have upped our game. Our culinary team has put a lot of focus on being a foodie venue. Innovation is big with Topgolf and it’s one of our core values.”