Drive Shack Inc. / American Golf
Corporate Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
Category: Portfolio Companies
Hana Khouri – President and CEO, Drive Shack and American Golf
Kelley Buchhorn – Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer and Head of Investor Relations, Drive Shack
Paul Ballman – Senior Vice President, Head of Real Estate and AGC Strategy
Chilo Mendoza – Senior Vice President of Operations and Sales, American Golf
Tom Frost – Vice President of Business Development, American Golf
Drive Shack Inc. is a leading owner and operator of golf-related leisure and entertainment businesses with a focus on bringing people together through competitive socialization. The Drive Shack Inc. portfolio currently consists of the Drive Shack golf entertainment venues, the long-established golf course operator American Golf, and the newly founded Puttery, which opened operations in 2021.
Drive Shack is one of the major players in the sports and social entertainment space thanks to its combination of gaming with golf technology powered by TrackMan. Drive Shack offers multilevel venues, similar to competitor Topgolf, where customers can enjoy climate-controlled, private driving bays as well as comfortable lounge seating. With TrackMan technology at every location, guests can hit golf balls at targets on a real driving range while competing in augmented-reality games and virtual course play.
In addition to the tech-forward golf aspect of the venues, Drive Shack locations offer 300-plus televisions which air sporting events, rooftop bars, lounge areas, party venue spaces, and a wide array of food and drink options. With four locations currently operating and an additional New York venue in the works for 2023, Drive Shack’s intention is to appeal to golfers and non-golfers alike. The venues’ relaxed environment provides a space for anyone to socialize, dine, and enjoy golf-related games in a comfortable atmosphere. All locations also offer year-round social leagues where members can compete in weekly contests to win prizes.
To help fund the development of its entertainment golf venues, Drive Shack Inc. sold 24 of its 26 American Golf-owned golf courses for approximately $170 million by the end of 2019.
While Drive Shack has been a relative newcomer to the golf space, having opened its first location in 2018, American Golf has been a leading golf course operator for 30 years. The corporation owns, operates, or manages over 50 locations across the U.S, with a portfolio that stretches from coast to coast. American Golf is the largest daily-fee operator in California including over 30 courses in Southern California alone. In New York, popular city courses, such as Clearview Park, Dyker Beach, La Tourette, Pelham Bay, South Shore, are all run by American Golf.
American Golf prides itself on taking a special interest in communities in which it operates, not only by implementing environmentally responsible agronomic practices such as water efficiency but also by embracing the diversity of each area’s golfers and golf culture. American Golf courses offer discounts to juniors, women, low-income families, and the military as a means to support inclusion and diversity within the game of golf. American Golf also partners with programs such as The First Tee to support the future of golf by empowering junior golf programs. The management company has also invested millions of dollars to enhance technologies for electronic tee sheets, online tee time reservations, innovative websites for each of their public and private courses, and GOLFZiNG – the online discount tee time provider.
In 2021, Drive Shack Inc. opened the first Puttery Location. Puttery is a golf entertainment experience that puts a new spin on mini-golf. Like Drive Shack, Puttery is designed to be more than a golf experience. Locations offer competitive socialization along with curated culinary options and inventive craft cocktails that are guaranteed to provide a fun, 21 and over, experience for an epic night out.
“We are trying to redo what people think of as mini golf or putt-putt and really putting our own twist on it.” says Drive Shack Inc. CEO Hana Khouri.
The unique courses offer an intricately detailed experience and insight from partner and investor Rory McIlroy ensures they’re enjoyable and innovative for every level of golfer.
“We paid attention to details like the speed of the turf and the angles and the way the ball bounces off the sides.” Khouri says. “We really paid attention to every small detail. We’re continuing to improve on those things because we wanted someone who came in and was an avid golfer to be able to go in and say, ‘Wow, that was fun and it wasn’t overly easy, I’d like to come back and play another course.’”
Drive Shack Inc.’s newest project represents a different direction for the company. Since opening the first location in Dallas in 2021 Puttery has opened in Charlotte with plans to expand to over 20 locations by the end of 2024. Locations announce as coming soon include: Washington DC, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and New York City.
Puttery represents a new era of growth for the company as it is poised for rapid expansion in a growing niche within the off-course golf entertainment space. Its innovative design and modern spin have set the stage for Puttery to become a leader in the mini-golf entertainment industry.
While less aggressive in plans for future driving range venues, Drive Shack remains a major player in off-course golf, with strong financial backing that has the company targeting continued growth.
American Golf is one of the top ten 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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