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Five Iron Golf wants to become a household name

The company has received investments from heavyweights like Callaway and Enlightened Hospitality and recently launched a franchising program to grow domestically and internationally.


If the eatertainment category was a boxing match, Five Iron Golf would have some significant heavyweights in its corner. The concept, which first opened in New York City in 2017, received a minority investment from Topgolf owner Callaway in 2021 and, earlier this year, a $20 million investment from Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality.

The company is using these funds to grow not only its footprint, but the game of golf in general. Five Iron was founded with the explicit purpose of making the sport more accessible and inclusive. The founders set their sights on urban venues, covered those spaces in art and graffiti from local artists, and offered half-hour reservations for a group of four for as little as $35. There are now about two dozen domestic locations (and four international locations), each of which includes golf simulators, full-service bars, locally crafted meus, and lounge areas with activities like air hockey, Foosball, and shuffleboard.

All locations also include technology like simulators from TrackMan Golf and club offerings from Callaway. They also include simulator rentals, golf lessons, and events.

Last year, the company announced a new franchising program for both single- and multi-unit development and hired Joshual Frankel to lead that program. Now, with the franchising and funds in place, it’s full speed ahead for the company.

Frankel said the company currently has a pipeline of about 20 additional locations, including its first franchised units. He’d like that pipeline to be “north of 50” by the end of this year.

“If we bring in smart, experienced franchise partners, we can get to milestones much quicker than if we’re going to rely solely on our own development. Franchising is really just an opportunity to scale quicker (with) the growth of the eatertainment segment and also this massive boom when it comes to indoor golf,” Frankel said. “We believe we’re the leader of this (space).”

Therein lies Frankel’s bullishness. The indoor golf industry reached a market value of $1.3 billion, according to Straits Research, and is expected to reach $3.3 billion by 2030. That “boom” provides a major differentiator in a crowded family entertainment space, but showcasing that accessibility is as well.

“We preach inclusivity. If you’re a serious golfer, you want to utilize the best commercial simulators out there. But we’re also here for the entertainment user, maybe it’s date night or you want to hang out and have some late-night bites. We’re here for that as well. We don’t go after that singular demographic like some of our competitors might,” Frankel said.

As Five Iron grows, the company seeks prototypes that are about 7,500-to-9,000 square feet, which provides enough space to hold about eight to 10 simulators and also leave room for the kitchen, bar, locker rooms, and bag storage. Frankel wouldn’t disclose unit economics other than to point to the votes of confidence coming from the concept’s recent investors.

 As for that food and beverage program, Frankel would only disclose that it’s a “meaningful sales mix,” adding that the company has curated a national menu but allows its franchisees to offer localized flavors. As the company grows, food and beverage will continue to be a focus area, as it provides the opportunity to play longer, Frankel said.

“We’re constantly evaluating and bringing in additional use cases,” he said. “There has to be a reason for folks to stay and a lot of times that’s going to be how you feed them.”

The food and beverage program also plays into the company’s larger goal of becoming a household name.

“We believe we can be a global entity. We’ve had conversations from large, urban, highly foot trafficked opportunities to suburbia and borderline rural opportunities,” Frankel said. “We think we can compete anywhere there is a demographic of golfers.”

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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