Drive Shack (formerly “American Golf”) is reinventing itself, partnering with Professional Golfers’ Association star Rory McIlroy and shifting its focus from large golf course management to high-tech mini golf.
By MICHAELA MARKELS
What was once the world’s largest golf course management company, now Drive Shack, is moving forward with plans to debut its brand of miniature golf venues that will include tech-enhanced indoor putting, entertainment, and upscale food and beverages.
The Puttery will combine the auto-scoring technology of Topgolf with the social nature of mini golf in an upscale, lively cocktail environment. The first of the venues is set to open at The Colony, a high-end Dallas-Fort Worth development.
Last month, Santa Monica, California-based Drive Shack had an initial public offering during which it met its goal of selling $50 million in stock. At the same time, the company announced both its expansion into the mini golf industry and its new partnership with professional golfer Rory McIlory, a four-time Major Champion, two-time FedEx Cup winner, and first place ranking holder of the Official World Golf Ranking.
McIlroy became interested in the idea of a golf-oriented entertainment option for adults, leading him to enter into a non-binding agreement with Drive Shack to help create, invest in, and launch Puttery, according to a press release.
The creation of the Puttery brand is a strategic one, influenced by the disruption in the golfing industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as by increased demand for social and active entertainment options, according to Drive Shack.
The company has said that indoor putting venues decrease the cyclicality of its originally more seasonal demand and require less space, which in turn provides access to more densely populated areas, improve capital efficiency, and more.
While traditional Drive Shack venues cost $25-$40 million, Puttery venues cost $7-$11 million, which contributes to an increase in development yields from 10-20 percent for Drive Shack venues to 25-40 percent for Puttery venues.
Drive Shack’s growth plans also go beyond this summer, having previously stated that it hopes to have five Puttery locations by the end of this year and ten by the end of 2022.
“Once COVID-19 is under control, the ability to combine high-tech mini golf with a high-quality food-and-beverage menu will make Puttery a great experience for any social gathering,” said McIlroy in a statement.
“I am personally making a financial investment in the growth of future Puttery venues across the country and can’t wait to debut our first Puttery in Dallas this summer.”
Originally published at Dallas innovates