Golfsmith majority stake sold to private equity firm

New York-based private equity firm First Atlantic Capital on Oct. 16 bought a majority stake in golf equipment cataloger/retailer Golfsmith. The sale price was undisclosed.

Austin, TX-based Golfsmith, whose management will retain a minority ownership position in the company, plans to use the equity to expand its catalog, Website, and retail chain. “The new owners are focused on growth,” says Golfsmith vice president of marketing Barry Rinke, though he notes that First Atlantic Capital plans to take a hands-off approach to the company.

Still, the sale has brought about several management changes. Golfsmith senior vice president of merchandising and retail operations Jim Thompson has been promoted to president/CEO, succeeding cofounder Carl Paul, who with his brother Franklin retains a “substantial” ownership position and will focus on the company’s golf club component hobby business. Although the Pauls will retain board positions, First Atlantic Capital managing director Charles Shaw has been named chairman of Golfsmith.

The golf products marketer had actually been on the block for several years, but Golfsmith decided this year to pursue a deal more aggressively, Rinke says. Beyond growing all three marketing channels—catalog, retail, and Internet—Rinke says that “we’re still newlyweds and will have to see how the ‘marriage’ pans out and what First Atlantic’s expectations are.”

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