Global golf entertainment leader Topgolf has acquired sports gaming company World Golf Tour (WGT), creating the world’s largest digital golf audience. In conjunction with the acquisition, Topgolf® is adding two new divisions and reorganizing its corporate structure with a holding company to support the organization’s rapid growth.
The deal represents a convergence of the offline and online golf experience. WGT is the leading web and mobile golf game, with more than 14 million players worldwide across online, social and mobile platforms. Topgolf has 24 venues worldwide and served 8 million guests in 2015. It is opening venues in Las Vegas and several other key markets in 2016, increasing its projected annual attendance to more than 12 million this year.
Topgolf will further engage guests through in-venue experiences, app enhancements, compelling digital content and the emergence of a global golf entertainment community. WGT fans will not only be able to play the existing games they love, but they will also be able to play Topgolf virtually with new games featuring the signature dartboard-like outfield.
Topgolf, as it is known today in the U.S. and U.K., will operate as it does currently and will continue to be led by CEO Ken May. Topgolf will be one of three divisions held by parent company Topgolf International, Inc., dba Topgolf Entertainment Group (TEG). TEG will be led by Co-Chairman and CEO Erik Anderson.
“Topgolf has always signified so much more than a golf entertainment venue,” said Anderson, who last year was recognized as the number one innovator in golf by Golf Inc. magazine. “We envision ourselves as a global sports lifestyle brand where people go to have the best times of their lives with golfing, gaming, food and beverage, music, apparel, digital content and much more. We are excited to extend our brand into new mediums and locations while reimagining the golf experience for our current and prospective fans.”
TEG has formed Topgolf Media to deliver new entertainment options and content for Topgolf guests beyond the four walls of each venue. Topgolf Media will enhance the Topgolf experience through advanced digital media, strategic partnerships and sponsorships. The president of Topgolf Media will be WGT Co-Founder and CEO YuChiang Cheng. All of the current WGT associates will now be employed by Topgolf Media, which is hiring to fill additional critical positions immediately.
“Joining forces with Topgolf means more growth opportunities for our associates, improved service for our fans and additional development resources to advance our games,” Cheng said. “The World Golf Tour team is excited to grow our existing games and build even more engaging content with Topgolf for the future. Topgolf’s popular games will soon be available to play anywhere in the world from the palm of your hand.”
In addition, TEG is forming Topgolf International, which will oversee development abroad so that Topgolf may begin expansion in other countries. Topgolf International will be based in London and run by the company’s former CFO/COO Neil Allen.
TEG headquarters will remain in Dallas, with additional presence in San Francisco, New York, Seattle and London. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP acted as legal advisor to Topgolf in connection with the acquisition of WGT.
“Our vision statement is, ‘Topgolf is a global sports entertainment community creating the best times of your life,’” said Topgolf CEO Ken May. “These new divisions will allow us to invest in the ‘global’ and ‘entertainment’ parts of our vision. One day, years from now, we’ll find it hard to believe that we were ever just Topgolf.”