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USM Tourism, Sport Management Faculty Collaborate with Trent Lott National Center on First Topgolf Facility in Mississippi

Tue, 05/07/2024 - 08:47am | By: Van Arnold

USM Professor

Dr. Wei Wang

University of Southern Mississippi professors Dr. Wei Wang and Dr. Chris Croft recently provided economic impact assistance to Topgolf on a project that brings the unique recreational venue to central Mississippi.

Wang (Hospitality and Tourism Management) and Croft (Sport Management) assisted with the Topgolf Tourism Project for Ridgeland, Miss. Topgolf initially requested assistance from USM’s Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.

USM Professor

Dr. Chris Croft

Trent Lott Center Director Brian Henson brought the professors on board to coordinate the project researching the potential impact of facility venue visitors within the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).  

Data analysis of the Ridgeland location, Topgolf historical data, population patterns, and facility venue design calculations were implemented to project Topgolf visitors' impact (both in-state and out-of-state). The research proposal assisted the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) to approve Topgolf’s Tourism Tax Rebate Application.

Located off I-55, northeast of the Renaissance at Colony Park. This marks the first Topgolf location in the State of Mississippi. Topgolf recently broke ground on the new development, which will be a part of Prado Vista and include a mix of residential and entertainment space. Todd Waldo, Director of Real Estate Development with Topgolf, coordinated the new construction location for Topgolf with a late 2024 anticipated opening of the Ridgeland complex.

The University and community collaboration project included multiple USM programs.

“We are delighted to offer research support for Topgolf's endeavor to establish its inaugural facility in Mississippi,” said Wang. “This state-of-the-art venue is set to draw tourism, enrich the quality of life for residents, and generate a positive economic impact for both the local area and the state as a whole.”

Croft added, “This was a great interdisciplinary research project with economic development, hospitality and tourism, and sport management collaboration, which aligns with a top priority of the College of Business and Economic Development’s mission to support economic development by advancing knowledge through influential scholarship and collaboration with our communities.”

Henson noted, “Dr. Wang and Dr. Croft, along with their team, did an outstanding job for our client. They were given a very short time frame in which to conduct the study and were able to make it happen. I want to thank them for their professionalism and attention to detail in helping make the new Topgolf facility a reality.”

Sport Management graduate assistants Austin Bourne and Cassie Lambert assisted with the project. Project coordination was led by the Trent Lott Center’s Heather Brown, and total oversight by Henson with Topgolf’s Waldo and Tray Hairston with Butler Snow LLP on the MDA process.

To learn more, visit:


Trent Lott National Center

Southern Miss Hospitality and Tourism Management

Southern Miss Sport Management