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Group Headlined by Bryson DeChambeau to Launch Topgolf Competitor UnderPar Life

The company's first venue is slated for construction on Hawks Creek Golf Course just west of Fort Worth and will break ground before the end of the year.
| |Renderings courtesy of UnderPar Life
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Group Headlined by Bryson DeChambeau to Launch Topgolf Competitor UnderPar Life

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North Texas is getting a new experience economy player in UnderPar Life, and the company’s roster of co-founders and investors is headlined by pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau. The locally-based startup is launching as a Topgolf competitor and has agreed to a 99-year lease to open its first venue in Westworth Village, a suburb of Fort Worth, on city-owned Hawks Creek Golf Course.

The two-story 16,000-square-foot venue will boast 42 hitting bays, a 500-yard driving range, three bars, a kitchen led by celebrity chef Christian Lehrmann, a golf instruction academy, a fitness area, and a Tour-level short game practice area.

Construction on UnderPar Life is expected to break ground before the end of 2023 and is slated for delivery 12 to 18 months after groundbreaking. Co-founder David Deering—formerly with Adams Golf and various Silicon Valley startups—expects to open the short-game practice area and the driving range even earlier.

“UnderPar Life will be, hands down, the premier public-use golf practice facility in the state of Texas,” Deering says. “And it could very well be the premier facility in the entire United States.”

Because UnderPar Life will be on a municipal golf course, the venue will be open from sunrise—to accommodate early morning tee times—into the late hours of the night just like a Topgolf venue.

“Expense is a barrier to most things in life,” says DeChambeau, who’s LIV Golf team the Crushers took home the season-long team title on Sunday. “It is an unusually high barrier to experience the joy of golf. UnderPar Life at Hawks Creek is the first of many locations designed to redefine access to golf by reducing cost barriers. Our initiatives are geared toward making golf more affordable, approachable, and enjoyable for everyone. Our approach, partnering with municipally owned golf courses, removes significant financial obstacles and allows us to grow the community of golfers.”

Alongside DeChambeau, UnderPar Life—which is still in the pre-revenue stage—received an investment from Rogers Healy‘s Morrison Seger Venture Capital.

“The opportunity to partner with domain experts is always compelling,”  Healy said. “UnderPar Life, as evidenced by their team, has the experience to execute on their massive vision. We’re thrilled to be a part of the team and to see the outpouring of support and excitement from our investors.”

Deering plans to lead the enterprise through a preferred equity raise in 2024—with plans to leverage debt, as well. “We will be able to access debt because of the long term nature of our lease agreements,” he says. “Obviously, the more debt we can bring in, the less dilution that will occur. So, we’re balancing those factors as we determine how much equity to raise.”

The facility will boast Trackman units at each hitting station and a portion of the range will have zoysia grass tee boxes. The company is in discussions with a golf club manufacturer—with guidance from DeChambeau—to outfit the hitting bays with its golf clubs. Unlike Topgolf, the venue plans to offer course-quality clubs for use in its bays. Golf balls at the facility will be Tour quality, according to Deering.

“We believe that our total addressable market is much larger than Topgolf,” Deering says. “Topgolf’s business model doesn’t support the appeal to the avid golfer. We’re targeting the low handicappers with our world-class practice facility while also stealing market share from Topgolf with our golf gamification and our celebrity chef-led food and beverage offerings. So, if our golf gamification is similar to Topgolf, in Westworth Village, specifically, we believe that consumers will select us over Topgolf because of the quality F&B and the location.”

Deering envisions UnderPar Life’s kitchen and bar to be a higher-end Katy Trail Ice House. As it expands, the startup will not take a copy-and-paste approach to venues. It has built out various models to offer different-sized footprints and plans to enter smaller cities that Topgolf isn’t likely to enter.

“We’re employing a Silicon Valley-type, high-growth, high-gross margin model that creates a significant enterprise valuation,” Deering says. “We believe that if we build it the right way, a strategic competitor to Callaway would be interested in us. We’re aiming to create an enterprise valuation that exceeds the multiple that Callaway paid for Topgolf. We think we can because we’re not spending any money to buy land—and that will help us grow at a very rapid clip with lower capital needs.” In 2021, Callaway purchased Topgolf for $2.6 billion.

Bold Expansion Plans

UnderPar Life has plans for an aggressive expansion. The startup is in discussions with Sam Houston State University to place an UnderPar Life venue on its university-owned Bearkat Course in Huntsville. The company is also in discussions with private land owners in Tyler, Texas, golf course owners in Aiken, South Carolina, as well as footprints in Oklahoma and Louisiana. In all, the startup plans to open at least 30 locations across the country.

“We think we will have regular customers who never hit a golf ball,” Deering says. “No one has ever said, ‘Hey let’s go to the Topgolf for lunch,’ but people will do that at UnderPar Life.”

Over the first five years, Deering projects UnderPar Life to hit $20 million in monthly recurring revenue. The company modeled its projection off of a subscription-based price point for venue goers at $99 a month. “But we believe the projection is very conservative,” Deering says.

The idea for UnderPar Life was sparked by Mike Flynn, a former professional golfer and TCU alum, who started to notice just how underutilized and undercapitalized many driving ranges and golf practice facilities are. So, Flynn partnered with Deering to formalize an idea. The duo found its first canvas in Hawks Creek Golf Course a city-owned course in Westworth Village. The two went to L. Kelly Jones, the city’s mayor, to pitch the concept for UnderPar Life. After a series of meetings, Deering and Flynn inked a 99-year lease for UnderPar Life’s first venue at Hawks Creek.

During those meetings, Jones said the city has also been clamoring for fresh food and beverage offerings, so Flynn then had the idea to outfit the venue with a celebrity chef. He scored Lehrmann to lead the kitchen. And then Flynn went to pitch the idea to DeChambeau, and he signed on as an investor and co-founder.

“We didn’t hire and bring in [Bryson] as our business partner just to build a driving range,” Deering says. “We ultimately want to build the premier public golf performance facility in the world.”

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Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…

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