Originally crafted as a top competitor, the BigShots Golf chain has been sold to Topgolf Callaway as part of a deal that brings two of the biggest “golf experience” brands together.
According to a release, Topgolf Callaway is paying $29 million for four of the company’s six domestic locations and the rights to any future development.
BigShots had been under the purview of Invited Inc., which was formerly known as ClubCorp. That organization is based in Dallas.
“We are essentially purchasing an additional off-course venue and the royalty stream from three franchise venues, including the option to convert those to Toptracer technology in the near future,” said Topgolf Callaway Brands President and CEO Chip Brewer, “As well as further building out and strengthening our future venue pipeline and growing our partnership with an important golf equipment and apparel partner, Invited – all for the price of approximately one Topgolf venue.”
Although BigShots Golf operated in a similar way to the popular Topgolf ranges, company officials told those at new locations that it wasn’t trying to compete with Topgolf; rather the company was looking to open locations in areas that have been “underserved in the entertainment aspect,” according to T.J. Schier, who was the acting chief operating officer for BigShots.
But after unveiling ambitious plans, things appeared to be falling apart this year when plans for a 12-hole short course and massive driving range in Naples, Florida, were originally put on hold and then abandoned completely.
“The world has changed significantly from the time we initially evaluated the opportunity,” Randall Cousins said in June, when he was acting as the company’s senior VP. “Today, we face increased costs in every major category, including financing, construction and operations. In the past several months, we’ve explored many options to mitigate these challenges and invested several million dollars of sunk cost into development and materials. Unfortunately, we did not find a sustainable solution.”
Although this week’s release said four locations were part of the purchase, BigShots has six open locations in the United States: Bryan and Fort Worth, Texas; Akron, Ohio; Springfield, Missouri.; St. George, Utah; and Vero Beach, Florida.
An email to a BigShots spokesperson, inquiring on which properties were not part of the deal, was answered with this: “The acquisition encompasses only what was in our press release.”
Other locations were also planned in Panama City, Florida, and Grand Prairie, Texas, as well as Naples. A company official said BigShots was on track to open five more locations in the United States by 2024.
Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Hospitably Management, the Springfield company that owns that area’s BigShots, told the Springfield News-Leader the biggest change will be the addition of Toptracer technology. Patented by Topgolf Callaway Brands, Toptracer is software that tracks golf shots and displays a ball’s statistics, such as speed and distance, in real-time. O’Reilly did not indicate when this software will be available in Springfield.
BigShots will also have the opportunity to adopt the Topgolf menu, O’Reilly said. The two menus have a significant amount of overlap, though, both offering cocktails, wine and beer, traditional appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Despite the recent acquisition, O’Reilly said the hospitality management company has “absolutely no plans” to change the BigShots name or interior look.
As part of the deal, the two sides enter into a preferred vendor agreement in which Topgolf Callaway Brands’ products and merchandise will be featured at Invited’s more than 140 golf and country clubs.