Discover more from Profluence Sports by Andrew Petcash
TopGolf's For "Everything" Are Sweeping The Nation
TopGolf-inspired businesses are popping up everywhere. Who are they and can they succeed?
In the year 2000, a small British company was formed that would transform sports entertainment forever.
Who I’m talking about?
21 years later, Callaway would acquire them for $2.6 billion.
And now we’re seeing the emergence of TopGolf-influenced models, such as “TopGolf for Pickleball” or “TopGolf for Basketball”.
Let’s Dive In 👇
A Quick Look at TopGolf’s History
Topgolf was founded under the name of ‘Target Oriented Practice Golf’ by Steve Jolliffe and Dave Jolliffe in 2000.
The twins found driving ranges boring and wanted to gamify the experience.
So they implanted an RFID chip in golf balls to provide exact distance and location — a proprietary and patented technology.
The first few years were slow, but in 2005 they found partners to open 3 locations in the United States.
There was no looking back from there:
2021: 70 venues and $1.2B in revenue
In 2021, Callaway acquired the remaining 86% of TopGolf valuing the deal at $2.6 billion.
Sports x Entertainment Venues
The inclusion TopGolf brought to driving ranges led to new types of businesses (even in golf).
Puttery - adults-only mini golf mixed with craft cocktails and upscale eats
Five Iron Golf - a unique indoor urban golf experience where you can wine, dine, and play on virtual courses
Puttshack - upscale, tech-infused mini golf experience pairing modern technology with crazy courses and cool vibes
TopGolf’s for Everything
TopGolf’s success has inspired a new wave of entrepreneurs.
Chicken N Pickle (website)
A unique, indoor/outdoor entertainment complex that mixes pickleball with leisure.
The basketball version of TopGolf is set to launch soon.
Upscale entertainment venue/ restaurant & lounge.
Home Run Dugout (website)
They don’t even try to explain it any differently than “TopGolf for baseball”.
Scroll through Twitter and you’ll see people complaining about the 3-hour waits.
TOCA Social (website)
Then there’s TOCA who is a conglomerate in the soccer space — they’re now trying to create the “TopGolf for soccer”
Kids grew up playing sports and hanging out in arcades — now they’re grown up and want to do the same thing.
These TopGolf businesses perfectly intertwine:
food & drink
It’s also great for growing interest in a particular sport…
Of the 30 million guests that visited TopGolf in 2021, 50% identified as non-golfers.
Meaning TopGolf likely introduced golf to 15 million new people in one year.
And of those 15 million people, a large percentage are now more interested in playing on a real course and/or watching golf.
TopGolf’s Business Model
It will be interesting to see how these TopGolf-inspired models work — the golf version has inherent advantages beyond just being a first-mover.
TopGolf breaks its business into three units:
Toptracer (tech bays)
Topgolf Media (what it sounds like)
The venues have a lot of up-cost fronts, but they’re not that hard to replicate (even in new sports).
Where TopGolf shines is with its RFID and Toptracer technology. TopGolf competitors are even utilizing the Toptracer bays in their facilities.
Besides the actual venues…
What advantages will a “TopGolf for Basketball” or a “TopGolf for Soccer” really have?
TopGolf is an incredible business that showed the power of sports — yet it will be hard to replicate (even in completely new sports).
I don’t have a stat on this…
But businesses that try to build a replicate model in other verticals such as:
Uber for ____
TikTok for ____
AirBnB for ____
…have extremely low success rates.
Driving ranges were in need of innovation (and golf was in need of more inclusion).
It will be interesting to see how these other TopGolf-inspired businesses turn out.
I will say…
All of these companies mixing sports with entertainment are GREAT for the industry.
Anand Rajaraman — Owner of the San Francisco Unicorns, Founder of Rocketship VC.
The SF Unicorns are one of the six original cricket teams in the United States, competing in Major League Cricket.
You’ll enjoy this episode as we discuss:
Cricket landscape: US vs. International
Anand’s journey to owning a sports team
Where the sports tech ecosystem is headed
Check out the podcast episode here.
Anand sold his first two companies to Amazon and Walmart before jumping into venture capital and now sports team ownership making for an interesting convo.
Thanks for tuning in today!