GOLF+ has evolved dramatically over the last several years, including introducing full virtual reality play on golf courses like Kiawah Island, Valhalla and Wolf Creek less than a year ago. In just 10 months, users have already hit more than 500 million shots. Now, the industry’s leading VR golf application is getting an even more significant boost for its continued growth: securing investment from several of the biggest names in professional sports, among them Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Brady, Steph Curry and Mike Trout.
The GOLF+ VR experience is intended to be complementary to traditional golf rather than an alternative or a replacement, its founders have said, allowing people to play anytime and anywhere while removing barriers such as time restraints, weather and traditional green fees.
McIlroy, who has also invested in an indoor, golf entertainment mini golf venture called Puttery, says he’s excited about the potential GOLF+ has to bring the game to millions of households worldwide. The VR platform offers a fun and non-intimidating introduction for non-golfers who have never swung a club before, while avid golfers are able to play realistic, virtual reproductions of some of the world’s most iconic courses in a solo or social setting.
“The platform makes the sport so much more accessible to new audiences while also additive to experienced green grass golfers,” says McIlroy, a four-time major championship winner and former world No. 1 golfer. “This fun, immersive experience brings golf into the virtual era, and I believe it will have a positive impact on the game of golf.”
Spieth, a three-time major winner, was the world’s top-ranked junior before the age of 18 and made an early splash as a pro – becoming golf’s second-youngest Masters champion behind Tiger Woods with his win in 2015 and following that up by becoming the youngest US Open champ since Bobby Jones almost a century earlier. While he discovered traditional golf at a very early age, Spieth recognizes that many younger and first-time golfers may now be discovering the game in virtual reality.
“Once they experience their first great shot, or compete with friends, these new players get a taste of what makes golf so special,” Spieth said.
While McIlroy and Spieth are two of golf’s most accomplished and well-known current pros, GOLF+’s newest investment group – led by Breyer Capital – also extends to 70-year-old Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters winner and one of golf’s most respected current course architects, as well as golf-obsessed stars from the NFL (Brady), NBA (Curry) and Major League Baseball (Trout). Other prominent investors include financier Jimmy Dunne, a very familiar name in golf circles, along with 1800contacts founder Jonathan Coon, former IBM
Breyer Capital founder Jim Breyer, a billionaire who led Facebook’s first institutional funding round in 2005, said he expects GOLF+ will build on its market-leading position as virtual and augmented reality hardware progresses dramatically over the next 5-to-10 years. This round of funding totaled about $6 million.
“From the first moment that I met the GOLF+ team, I knew that they had both the technical expertise and passion for golf to bring the sport into the metaverse,” Breyer said.
The GOLF+ brand emerged in late 2021 after adding full course play, but the company was initially launched in 2018 as an augmented reality putting app. It was co-founded by friends Ryan Engle and Rob Holzhauer, who sought to create a platform where golfers could socialize and compete in a virtual environment. They launched a VR putting game called Pro Putt and a VR Topgolf venue in 2020 before evolving into its current format, which is available on the Meta Quest 2 platform for $29.99.
“We’ve spent countless hours honing the GOLF+ experience to be as close to the real sport as possible, but it’s not an alternative or replacement to traditional golf,” says Engle, the GOLF+ CEO. “It’s a new way to experience the game and our goal with GOLF+ is to bring golf into the lives of as many people as possible.”
The new investment will go a long way to making that vision a reality.