Bruin Capital has reached an agreement to buy a majority stake in golf simulator Full Swing, the latest investment in a diversified sports, media and tech portfolio.
Bruin, led by George Pyne, is acquiring the controlling stake from North Castle Partners, which will remain a shareholder. The deal is valued at roughly $160 million, according to someone familiar with the terms.
Bruin plans to help accelerate Full Swing’s global expansion and grow its product in new areas—similar to how Peloton has used subscriptions, new tech and gamification to enhance the at-home workout experience.
“Full Swing set the standard for authentic simulator experiences in golf,” Pyne said in a statement. “With great vision, the team also developed leading-edge software and technological capabilities that will translate into more in and out-of-home product lines across more sports for all levels of athletes, enthusiasts, and casual fans.”
The COVID-19 pandemic produced an uptick in golf participation, both for socially distanced rounds on actual courses, and for other versions like driving ranges and simulators. The at-home golf industry surged, particularly in the early part of the pandemic, when many courses were closed and golfers turned to simulators to get their fix.
Roughly 12.1 million Americans played a form of golf exclusively in off-course settings in 2020, according to data from the National Golf Foundation. That’s about 50% of the total (24.8 million) that played on a course last year.
Pyne started Bruin, originally called Bruin Sports Capital, in 2015. The group now spans 40 offices and nearly 2,000 employees, with a portfolio that includes sports media tech company Deltatre, marketing firm Engine Shop and venture capital firm CourtsideVC.
The group’s recent investments have focused primarily on technology. That includes deals for ad tech firm TGI Sport (a $100 million transaction), data analytics company Two Circles, and sports betting affiliate Oddschecker (a $218 million deal).
Full Swing, which is based in Carlsbad, Calif., makes golf simulators for homes and for commercial use, with a roster of golf ambassadors that includes Tiger Woods, John Rahm and Jordan Spieth. The company also works in various capacities with the PGA Tour, the Golf Channel and Top Golf.