Henderson European Fund Partners I, LP, the European private equity fund managed by Henderson Private Capital is committing an initial £15 million to roll out TopGolf Game Centres at selected locations in the UK and Ireland. The world’s first TopGolf Centre opened in Watford, north of London in November 2000 and has attracted over 65,000 members.
The TopGolf concept is made possible by a tiny microchip at the centre of each golf ball. The microchip responds to sensors in the green-sized targets to register where the ball lands. There are eleven targets strategically arranged on a 10 acre outfield with the nearest at 25 yards and the furthest at 240 yards.
Players can use the system to practice or to play a competitive game with up to five players in each bay, which allows a fun, point-scoring game to be played. TopGolf is thus a unique leisure attraction, appealing to non-players as well as golf enthusiasts.
Toby Boyle, head of private equity, Europe, at Henderson, said, “We are very excited about investing in such an innovative leisure concept and supporting the management’s plans to grow over the next few years. Our strategy is to invest in growth companies in Europe, with strong entrepreneurial management teams. TopGolf epitomises this approach.”
Stephen Lewis will be chief executive of Baydrive Ltd, the owner of TopGolf. Formerly managing director of Pinnacle Leisure Group, he has extensive experience in the leisure industry. Stephen was previously responsible for the expansion and sale of the Pinnacle Health Club chain to Cannons Health Clubs.
“I am delighted to be joining TopGolf,” he said. “With Henderson’s backing and expertise we can confidently look forward to developing the TopGolf concept throughout the UK. TopGolf will revolutionise golf in the same way that technology transformed pub skittles into ten-pin bowling.”
World Golf Systems Group plc, the Hertfordshire-based inventors of the TopGolf concept, will supply the technology and software for the centres as they are developed. It will also focus on the rapid roll-out of TopGolf outside the UK and Ireland in conjunction with Mark McCormack’s international sports marketing and management group, IMG.
Henderson Private Capital www.henderson.com/private_capital