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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

Golf Channel / GolfNow

Category

Corporate Headquarters

Orlando, Florida

Website

Key Employees

Mike McCarley, President
Molly Solomon, Executive Vice President, Content and Executive Producer
Will McIntosh, Executive Vice President, Strategy
Jay Madara, Chief Financial Officer
Jeff Foster, Senior Vice President, GolfNow and Emerging Businesses
Tom Knapp, Senior Vice President, Golf Sponsorships
Julie Lusk, Vice President, Human Resources
Chris Murvin, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs and General Counsel
Phil Piazza, Senior Vice President, Programming
Geoff Russell, Senior Vice President and Executive Editor
David Schaefer, Vice President, Communications
Pepper White, Senior Vice President, Marketing

Profile

Golf Channel is available to more than 500 million viewers in over 70 countries, but it’s grown into much more than co-founder Arnold Palmer could have envisioned when it debuted as the first single-sport cable network in the United States back in 1995.

Golf Channel is the most visible brand under the NBC Sports Group umbrella, featuring more live golf coverage than all other networks combined. In addition to tournament action from the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour, The Open Championship, the Olympics, Ryder Cup, and NCAA championships, Golf Channel features extensive news, instruction and original programming.

“From about Wednesday evening through Sunday night, you can generally get some live golf tournament that’s happening somewhere in the world 40 weeks out of the year,” said Mike McCarley, who has headed up Golf Channel’s operations since 2011 and serves as the President, Golf, for NBC Sports Group.

‘The breadth of coverage is pretty significant,” he adds. “You think about the effect that can have on kids looking for a reason to get into a sport. Not necessarily golf, but the fact that there’s a lot of the content out there where they can see someone, become a fan, find someone to try to emulate.”

The NBC Sports’ portfolio of golf businesses extends far past Golf Channel, with business-to-business interests and business-to-consumer properties.

NBC Sports also owns GolfNow, the world’s largest online tee time reservation platform and golf course technology partner. At the end of 2019, it seized a bigger share of the online tee time market by acquiring EZLinks (an original Golf 100 company) and its prominent tee time booking platform TeeOff. GolfNow and TeeOff are the two biggest third-party booking engines in the game, with more than 9,000 affiliated courses worldwide between them.

Additional interests include:

  • GolfChannel.com
  • Golf Live Extra and NBC Sports Live Extra, the 24/7 live streaming options for Golf Channel programming.
  • Golf Channel Mobile, a comprehensive app featuring golf’s latest headlines, scores and analysis.
  • GolfAdvisor.com, the world’s most trafficked golf course ratings and reviews resource.
  • Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform serving instruction, travel and integrated e-commerce content.
  • Golf Channel Academy, a North American network of instructional facilities.
  • Golf Channel Amateur Tour, the world’s largest amateur golf tour.
  • GOLF Business Solutions, a range of B2B solutions and technology for golf facilities including management and point-of-sale platforms, and marketing solutions.
  • GOLFPASS, a digital membership program co-founded by Rory McIlroy that offers benefits and perks encompassing the things golfers love to do most: Play, Learn, Shop, Travel and Watch.
  • Shop with GOLF, an e-commerce platform that gives golfers new ways to engage with their favorite brands, shows, personalities and content.
  • Rotoworld, the industry leader in fantasy sports information.

Palmer is often credited as the visionary behind Golf Channel, and it was his dogged and influential support that made it a reality. But it was an Alabama businessman named Joe Gibbs who first came up with the idea and successfully pitched it to The King, who in turn convinced investors to financially back a 24-hour golf network and cable companies to buy into the idea. It originally launched to about 130,000 homes.

Arnold Palmer’s influence helped make Golf Channel a reality.

Comcast acquired sole ownership of Golf Channel in 2000, and in 2011 the network joined NBC Sports Group after Comcast acquired NBCUniversal.

 

While its world headquarters are in Orlando, Florida, the global reach of NBC Sports’ GOLF division extends to its international office in Belfast, Northern Ireland, regional offices across North America, Europe and Australia, and also includes collaborations with Sky Sports and serving as the Official Media Partner of St Andrews Links.

In addition to tournament coverage, Golf Channel’s daily news programs include Morning Drive and Golf Central, along with the network’s Live From programming, which airs on-site from the game’s biggest events. Golf Channel also broadcasts instruction programs, original productions such “Arnie,” “Jack” and “Seve,” and award-winning shows like “Feherty,” featuring the Emmy-nominated David Feherty.

GolfNow, meantime, has been a significant revenue stream for Golf Channel and NBC Sports Group.

More than tee time booking, the platform provides technology and services designed to help affiliated courses manage their businesses more efficiently and effectively: a consultancy service to improve marketing and pricing strategies, a purchasing program that can save facilities up to 35 percent on items and equipment, and a 24/7 telephone support system run by golf-savvy experts.

GolfNow gives more than 3.5 million golfers the ability to book tee times at more than 7,000 courses worldwide.

NGF Takeaways

Golf Channel’s multi-faceted business has grown far beyond its roots.

The company boasts the largest engaged digital audience in golf, one that got even bigger in 2017 with the acquisition of Revolution Golf, which delivers video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce.

That addition fits into the strategy created back in 2007, when Golf Channel originally acquired GolfNow and began its transformation from a traditional media company into a new media technology platform. The 2019 addition of EZLinks further expanded its relevance in the tee time booking market.

Golf Channel is able to lean on the expertise of NBC Sports in continuing to grow its digital and streaming capabilities, an important consideration as media consumption evolves.

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