TopGolf is a technology-enabled golf company that operates at the intersection between socializing and sports. The TopGolf experience revolves around their climate-controlled bays where you tee off and aim for outfield targets, and there is also music, food, and drink. They also offer event catering packages perfect for birthday parties, company events, and fundraisers.
TopGolf competes in the off-course golf space within the sports and entertainment industry. Of course golf has grown rapidly over the last several years. Increasing from 9.9 million participants in the U.S. in 2019 to 12.4 million in 2021 (25% growth). Total golf participation is on the rise as well. They compete most directly with other off-course golf brands such as X-Golf.
TopGolf was created in 2001 out of the classic “Who was closer?” question. They opened their first location in Watford, U.K., which featured radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and dartboard-style targets. In 2005, they opened their first U.S. location in Alexandria, VA. And in 2006, the Callaway Golf Company became an investor. In 2012, they opened their first 102-bay entertainment-focused venue in Katy, Texas. Which resonated with customers and paved the way for their growth over the next several years.
In March of 2021, TopGolf was acquired by the Callaway Golf Company, a golf equipment and active lifestyle company with a portfolio of golf brands. Callaway CEO Chip Brewer is optimistic about the merger. Explaining that “Callaway’s leadership in the global golf equipment market and geographic diversity, combined with Topgolf’s revolutionary technology platform and access to golfers of all abilities, will allow both companies to accelerate growth and create competitive advantages.”
Since TopGolf’s U.S. venues are company-owned, key insights can be gleaned from Callaway’s financial statements.
In their 2021 fourth quarter earnings release, Callaway reports that TopGolf brought in $1,087,671,000 in revenue. Notably, it is a profitable segment of Callaway’s business, earning $58,225,000 in operating income.
Callaway’s 2021 fourth quarter earnings presentation offers some insights into the costs associated with opening a TopGolf venue. Construction of a TopGolf venue typically costs from $10 to $40 million, and each venue typically collects about $17 million in revenue annually. TopGolf is profitable at the venue level as well, with EBITDAR typically amounting to about $5 million for each venue.
|Twelve Months Ended December 31,||Growth||Non-GAAP Constant Currency vs. 2020|
|Topgolf||$ 1,087,671||$ –||$ 1,087,671||n/m||n/m|
|Apparel, Gear & Other||816,601||606,785||209,816||34.6%||32.8%|
|Total net revenues||$ 3,133,447||$ 1,589,460||$ 1,543,987||97.1%||95.1%|
|Segment operating income:|
|Topgolf||$ 58,225||$ –||$ 58,225||n/m|
|Apparel, Gear and Other||68,511||679||67,832||9990.0%|
|Total segment operating income||330,582||149,257||181,325||121.5%|
|Corporate G&A and other||(125,867)||(80,503)||(45,364)||56.4%|
|Goodwill and tradename impairment||–||(174,269)||174,269||(100.0%)|
|Total operating income (loss)||204,715||(105,515)||310,230||294.0%|
|Gain on Topgolf investment||252,531||–||252,531||n/m|
|Interest expense, net||(115,565)||(46,932)||(68,633)||146.2%|
|Other income, net||8,961||24,969||(16,008)||(64.1%)|
Total income (loss) before income taxes
|$350,642||$ (127,478)||$ 478,120||375.1%|
In 2022, there are 68 TopGolf venues in the U.S. and seven international locations. This is up from one U.S. venue in 2005 and 24 venues in 2015. Nine of these U.S. venues opened in 2021, including one new location in Ft. Myers, FL during the fourth quarter of 2021.
Currently, TopGolf owns and operates their U.S. and U.K. venues. However, there are franchised venues in Australia, Mexico, and the U.A.E. and there are franchise expansion plans in central Europe and Asia.
To open a TopGolf international franchise, you need to complete TopGolf’s international franchisee inquiry form. And the TopGolf international team will review it and determine whether you meet their business requirements. If you meet the requirements, the business development team will contact you. TopGolf supports international franchisees in the areas of development, operations, business intelligence, marketing, training, construction, culinary, and technology.
The first X-Golf Franchise Corporation began in 2015 and has since expanded to multiple locations across Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Colorado, and Michigan. The current CEO is Ryan D’Arcy, who has been in that role since 2019. Previously, he served as Director of Franchise Operations and Director of Sales & Business development of both the X-Golf Franchise Corporation and its parent company, X-Golf America.
The estimated total investment necessary to begin the operation of an X-Golf Franchise ranges from $547,200 to $916,000. Based on a midpoint investment of $731,600 with profits of $19,403 (2.7% profit margin) it would take about 38 years to recoup your investment.
X-Golf has seen franchise unit increases in each of the last three years, and the franchises on average have been profitable in recent years. However, the growth in new franchises has slowed and franchise profits decreased significantly in the most recent period.
2. Five Iron Golf’s story started in 2015 when Mike Doyle used to teach lessons in Manhattan. He and his student Jared started thinking about an indoor facility where Mike could teach more lessons and golfers could work to improve their game as Mike’s lessons started becoming more in demand. Nora Dunnan and Katherine Solomon (also Jared’s wife), summer camp friends of both Mike and Jared, joined them in their new venture.
Five Iron hosts best-in-class simulators, Trackman lesson studios, access to teaching professionals, practice time, leagues, club storage, showers, top-of-the-line clubs that are free to use during your booking, and in-house club fitting services.
The estimated total investment necessary to begin the operation of a Five Iron Franchise ranges from $1,426,500 – $4,205,000. They have not disclosed any financial information about the company except that the Company has only incurred one transaction from inception, which is the contribution of $200,000. That is the only thing on their 2021 Balance sheet.
Right now, Five Iron has no franchises and all locations are company-owned – but you have the chance to be the first franchisee.
3. Pinot’s Palette is an American pan-national paint and sip franchise headquartered in Houston, Texas. Founded in 2009, Pinot’s Palette offers step-by-step group art lessons accompanied by wine or cocktails.
Pinot’s Palette was founded in 2009 by business partners Craig Ceccanti, Charles Willis, and Beth Willis. Ceccanti says he got the idea for starting the business after he attended a painting class in Louisiana with his family.
The estimated total investment necessary to begin the operation of a Pinot’s Palette Franchise ranges from $91,447 to $192,224. Based on a midpoint investment of $141,835 with profits of $11,488 (5% profit margin) it would take about 14 years to recoup your investment.
Pinot’s Palette seems to be in decline, however. Between 2019 and 2021, they went from 137 to 82 franchises. This is not a good sign.
Venues with higher construction costs can cost up to $40 million. And if you are only making $5 million in profit each year, it could take eight years just to recoup your construction costs. However, with construction costs at the low end of the range, it could take just two years to recoup your construction costs. There is also the possibility in this growing industry that profits increase.
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