Atomic Golf Opens at Strat, Abruptly Fires Third of Staff

This is so painful, we’ll try and make it quick.

Atomic Golf, a $75 million Topgolf knock-off at The Strat, opened March 22, 2024. On May 22, 2024, the golf-themed attraction fired 250 employees because of “financial difficulties due to lack of business levels.”

That’s about one third of the venue’s staff, and they’re understandably teed off.

Atomic Golf puts the “y” in “yuge.”

Atomic Golf has acknowledged the layoffs, but hasn’t officially given specifics. They were, however, revealed in an internal communication. The message communicating the terminations contained the closing, “Warmly.” Brutal.

Yes, businesses often overhire when they open, because attrition is a natural part of the process. Lots of front line employees jump onboard, then when they get a look at the financial landscape (as opposed to pie-in-the-sky promises), they often bop to their next gig.

This goes beyond that common and expected scenario. It’s a reality check for the new and ambitious attraction, and reality can, to put it in the parlance of business, suck.

We visited Atomic Golf on opening night, and it’s awesome. Awesome, however, does not a business plan make.

The golf is just a social lubricant, really.

The CEO of Atomic Golf says the venue is more “entertainment with golf” than “golf with entertainment.”

Here’s a look at some of the tech used in the driving range part of the experience.

Like we said, though, offering something cool isn’t always enough. Location plays a much bigger part in whether a business succeeds or not.

The super successful Topgolf is a few feet from one of the biggest resorts in the world, MGM Grand. Atomic Golf is a few feet from crack houses and blight.

Beyond the challenging location, Atomic Golf opened in a town with a glut of golf. Beyond TopGolf, another new golf-themed attraction just opened at Town Square, PopStroke. Also in the works is a golf-themed lounge at Mandalay Bay, Swingers.

Granted, these venues aren’t really golf venues, per se. They’re more restaurants and lounges with golf activities, but still. Restaurants and lounges aren’t typically 100,000 square feet, nor do they tend to accommodate 3,000 people.

Atomic Golf seems an exercise in unbridled optimism. What could possibly go wrong?

Props to Atomic Golf for the restaurant signs, tho.

Atomic Golf is massive, and while management insists its corporate buy-out business is strong (the venue does hope to capture TopGolf overflow as well), that’s clearly not strong enough to keep the venue afloat, as least not at its original staffing levels.

We trust the dramatic decision to lay off one-third of its employees wasn’t an easy one, and labor costs are the biggest expense of any business, so this rejiggering could give Atomic Golf a chance to get its footing.

We’re trying to ignore the fact the driving bays are facing west, into the sun. And the fact if you part in the Stratosphere’s garage, it’s a four-mile walk to Atomic Golf. And the fact there’s no foot traffic.

Atomic Golf is an undeniably spectacular venue, however, and a great hang with four floors of bars and food and more than 100 bays to whack balls. Here are some answers to your many questions about Atomic Golf.

At the moment Atomic Golf is 21-plus. We’ll see how that goes given the “business levels.”

We’d love to see Atomic Golf rebound after this embarrassing misstep. The Strat needs a viable business in its backyard, and the neighborhood needs bodies (human activity can suppress criminal activity).

We look forward to another visit to Atomic Golf, and we are in no way a golf person. If we were, we’d have a pithy golf pun to add the perfect button to this story. Please insert your own “waggle” or “mulligan” reference here. We can’t do everything for you.