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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF

Drive Shack Inc. / American Golf

Category

Corporate Headquarters

New York, N.Y.

Website

Key Employees

Drive Shack:
Hana Khouri – President and CEO
David M. Hammarley – Chief Financial Officer
Lawrence Goodfield, Jr. – Chief Accounting Officer & Treasurer

American Golf :
Jim Hinckley – President and CEO
Ken Hultz – Senior VP
Lee Finkel – Senior VP

Profile

Drive Shack Inc. is a leading owner and operator of golf-related leisure and entertainment businesses, with a portfolio that includes the Drive Shack golf entertainment venues as well as long-established golf course operator American Golf.

Drive Shack has been one of the major players in the sports and social entertainment space, combining gaming with golf technology powered by TrackMan. Much like competitor Topgolf, its multilevel venues feature expansive, climate-controlled, private driving bays with lounge seating where guests hit golf balls at targets on a range as part of augmented-reality games and virtual course play.

In addition to tech-forward golf, Drive Shack locations feature 300-plus televisions to watch sporting events, retro arcade games, a rooftop patio, and a host of food options including a restaurant and bar serving chef-driven dishes and craft cocktails. With four locations open through the end of 2019 and more on the way, Drive Shack is intended to appeal to golfers and non-golfers alike, providing an opportunity to socialize, dine and play golf-related games in a comfortable, lively and engaging atmosphere. It hosts a range of special events year-round, from social leagues and boozy brunches to college nights and seasonal and holiday gatherings.

Drive Shack Inc. is also developing an innovation called “Urban Box,” a social, technology-enhanced mini golf experience designed for dense, urban locations. These venues require significantly less real estate than the core Drive Shack stores, providing more opportunity for growth, shorter development timelines and less capital risk.

An interior view of the Drive Shack location in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy: Drive Shack)

To help fund the development of its entertainment golf venues, Drive Shack Inc. sold 24 of its 26 owned golf courses for approximately $170 million by the end of 2019.

While Drive Shack has been a relative newcomer to the golf space, American Golf has been a leading golf course operator for 30 years. The corporation operates more than 60 private, resort, and public golf courses throughout the U.S., with a portfolio that stretches from coast to coast. American Golf is an operating partner with the cities of New York and San Diego, as well as Los Angeles County.

The company is the largest daily-fee operator in California – with 47 courses, including 43 in Southern California alone. In New York, popular city courses, such as Clearview Park, Dyker Beach, La Tourette, Pelham Bay, South Shore, and Split Rock, are all run by American Golf.

American Golf prides itself on understanding the local demographics of the markets in which it operates, providing its customers with a variety of unique golf experiences and its partners a comprehensive database of highly targeted golfers and integrated marketing opportunities.

The company has also demonstrated a commitment to both the game and the communities in which it operates. It has been active in not only implementing environmentally responsible agronomic practices – such as efficient water usage – but it also works to strengthen and develop community ties by offering numerous participation opportunities, including discounts and clinics for juniors, women, low-income families, and military members. In addition, American Golf is a partner of The First Tee, helping to support the future of golf through its junior programs, while also supporting local charities through its Golf Gives Back campaign.

The American Golf-operated Coyote Hills Country Club in Fullerton, CA (Photo courtesy: American Golf)

 

With a diverse and deep portfolio of courses, American Golf has invested millions of dollars to enhance its technologies – among them electronic tee sheets, online tee time reservations, and multi-platform marketing that includes user-friendly websites for each of its public and private properties, as well as a website specialized for private events and tournaments.

Additionally, The Player’s Club (American Golf’s proprietary subscription membership program with over 50,000 members nationwide), combined with its proprietary management technologies, drive industry leading revenue growth for its clients and partners. American Golf also operates an online tee time website (golfzing.com) that provides discounted rates, an interactive golf community, and events to members of its clubs.

NGF Takeaways

Drive Shack is one of the fastest-growing companies in the off-course golf participation space, with strong leadership and financial backing that has the company positioned for continued growth.

American Golf is one of the top five management companies in golf, bringing a wide range of expertise and innovations to the clubs in its vast network. Over the years, it has continued to push the boundaries of innovation and technology in its golf operations, while also investing significantly in its systems and properties.

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