Fast-growing Arcis Golf keeps linking up more links. The Dallas-based company acquired six Mickelson Golf properties in Arizona in August and purchased The Golf Club at Twin Creeks in Allen, Texas, in early September. Now it’s added a 66th property to its collection—Gentle Creek Country Club in Prosper.
Arcis is the second-largest owner and operator of golf facilities in the U.S. (The largest, ClubCorp, is headquartered in Dallas as well.) Arcis’ acquisition of Gentle Creek gives it 21 properties in Texas, and 12 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone.
“Gentle Creek is an exceptional private club, and we’re thrilled to be expanding our footprint within the DFW metroplex,” said Blake Walker, founder and CEO of Arcis Golf, in a statement. “The addition of Gentle Creek to our collection of clubs is consistent with our growth strategy and builds upon our irreplaceable and differentiated club offering within the market.”
‘The Jeff Bezos of the golf industry’
According to Golf Inc. magazine, Arcis founder Blake Walker has been called “the Jeff Bezos of the golf industry” for founding Arcis in 2013 “with nothing but an idea—scratched onto a napkin no less—and then bringing it to fruition.”
When Walker started up Arcis, golf—and golf courses—were in a years-long decline. The total number of golfers fell from 30 million in 2005 to 24 million in 2015, according to the National Golf Foundation. Millennials got a lot of the blame for having attention spans too short for a four-hour round of golf.
When many thought golf was doomed, Walker, an SMU grad who was on the golf team at Hillcrest High School, only saw opportunity—and began snapping up golf properties. His company bought both daily-fee courses and high-end country clubs nationwide, and found innovative ways to raise revenue—with everything from fine dining and cocktail lounges to new attractions like disc golf, footgolf, and tech “gamification.”
“The golf’s got to be really good, but that’s just the ante in the game. We need to excel in other areas. It’s more of a lifestyle play,” Walker told D Magazine in 2017.
In 2018, CEO Blake Walker was recognized by EY as the Entrepreneur of the Year in the hospitality category.
Today—after getting a huge boost during the lockdowns of 2020, when golfing on a wide open course seemed like the safest thing of all to do—golf is on the upswing. The National Golf Foundation says 36.9 million people played golf in 2020, including 24.8 million who played on golf courses and another 12.1 million who participated exclusively in off-course golf activities at driving ranges, indoor golf simulators, or golf entertainment venues like Topgolf, Drive Shack, and BigShots.
Meanwhile, Arcis Golf just keeps snapping up clubs.
“Significant investment” planned
The Gentle Creek club is part of Gentle Creek Estates, an upscale golf-and-lifestyle residential community. It’s hosted multiple PGA Tour and USGA qualifiers on Its D.A. Weibring-designed, parkland-style golf course.
Arcis Golf says it has invested more than $75 million in upgrades, amenities, personnel, training, and systems in its collection of private, resort, and daily-fee clubs across the country. It’s now planning “a significant investment” in Gentle Creek’s clubhouse and course infrastructure.
“Our vision is to further enhance Gentle Creek’s rich legacy through targeted capital reinvestment and a firm commitment to expanding the breadth and scope of family-centric amenities and services,” said Rob Larkin, Arcis’ SVP of operations, in the statement.
Arcis Golf has made the Inc. Magazine 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies (2017, 2018) along with the National Golf Foundation’s “Top 100 Businesses in Golf” (2018, 2020).
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