With tournament golf temporarily on hold, Rory McIlroy is finding time to focus on business off the course. The world’s top-ranked golfer is among a group of investors to infuse Golf Genius Software with millions of dollars in equity capital to help grow its industry-leading tournament management software and global reach.
The Golf Genius software streamlines the process of managing golf tournaments, thus easing the burden on golf professionals and improving the golfer experience through mobile apps and live scoring. The company’s flagship product, Golf Genius TMS, is distributed in the U.S. by the USGA, which also engaged the company to build, maintain and host the new centralized handicap system in the U.S. that was launched in January. In addition, Golf Genius, which has been recognized by the National Golf Foundation as one of the top 100 businesses in the industry, provides software products to help golf professionals manage their golf shops.
McIlroy is investing in Golf Genius through his Dublin, Ireland-based Symphony Ventures, which joined private equity firm MVP Capital of Radnor, Pennsylvania, in the initial round of financing, specific terms of which weren’t disclosed. Golf Genius was founded in 2009 by Michael Zisman, who until now has provided almost all of the capital invested in the profitable and growing company, which serves more than 9,000 golf facilities and associations in 50 countries worldwide.
“By broadening our investor base, we will accelerate our growth strategy both organically and through acquisition,” said Zisman, who has a background in enterprise software as well as building and managing successful businesses (Soft-Switch, Lotus Development Corporation and IBM among them).
McIlroy was introduced to Golf Genius through his involvement with NBC Sports’ digital platform GOLFPASS, which provides members with golf perks and discounts, including tee-time credits at over 9,000 courses. Golf Genius is similarly involved with NBC Sports, with a strategic relationship covering a number of initiatives.
The cloud-based software capabilities that Golf Genius offers may become even more essential given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many other aspects of golf’s nature are already conducive to social distancing practices.
“I want to help the timeless game of golf transition into the digital era,” said McIlroy. “Innovation is vital to the future of the game and Golf Genius is the market leader in competition software, making golf more fun for golfers of all ages.”
Zisman and MVP Capital’s managing partner, Bob Brown, have been friends for several decades and share a hometown connection in the suburbs of Northwest Philadelphia as well as a shared love for golf. In addition to two previous investments within the golf industry, this is the second time MVP Capital has joined a company founded by Zisman, having invested in Soft-Switch in the early 1980s. Zisman’s first company, Soft-Switch developed software that allowed different email systems to communicate, helping to accelerate the widespread adoption of email.
“We view Golf Genius Software as a proven innovator, with a strong management team and an exciting vision,” said Brown. “Mike has a passion for golf and a proven talent for leading fast-growing companies, which makes this an exceptionally attractive investment opportunity. We’re delighted to partner with the Golf Genius team and Rory McIlroy to enrich and grow the game we all love, at a time when we need it most.”