Drive Shack CEO Hana Khouri: Mini Golf Concept Puttery Is Still Evolving

Arcelia Martin
The Dallas Morning News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet Hana Khouri, the “Go-to” woman being multiple Dallas area Golf related businesses


Hana Khouri is admittedly not a golfer. But over the last decade, she’s climbed the ranks of two major golf entertainment companies and now runs Drive Shack Inc., a Dallas-headquartered operator of three golf-leisure businesses.

Khouri took over as Drive Shack’s chief executive officer and president in 2019 after serving as an executive at Dallas-based Topgolf tasked with setting the stage for its large-scale development plans in the U.S. and globally. Throughout her five years at Topgolf, she held various roles and opened 20 venues.

She arrived at Drive Shack after the company’s chairman told her if she came to work for his company, she would develop new skills beyond golf entertainment and learn about the public markets.

“I took a leap,” Khouri told an audience Thursday at Venture Dallas, a conference with industry leaders on innovation. “Wasn’t much of a leap, as I was in good hands.”

After she was brought on to steer Drive Shack back on track – at the time, the company was facing instability – Khouri helped launch Puttery, the group’s latest golf entertainment concept with its first location in Grandscape at The Colony.

The idea behind Puttery was to create an immersive experience around mini golf, but with attention to modern wants and aimed at adults. “We did not invent mini golf, obviously, but we really wanted to make it cool again,” she said.

When the first location opened, it used an autoscoring system. But since then, it’s been adapted to a scorecard that follows each player from hole to hole, where guests can input their own score.

Given the caliber of dining options in Dallas-Fort Worth, Khouri said the company paid close attention to the food and beverage menu at Puttery locations to ensure it’s offering unique and high-quality food and drinks.

“Puttery has really evolved and morphed into what we have today,” she told the crowd at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. “And it’s still evolving slightly from lessons learned from each of the locations that we’re opening.”

In her new role, Khouri also consolidated Drive Shack’s three office spaces in Irving, New York and Los Angeles into one — and began only listing jobs in Dallas.

Dallas-Forth Worth is a growing hub for golf-related businesses like Drive Shack’s other entertainment arm, driving range-style restaurants and bars. Topgolf, now owned by Callaway Golf Co., pushed the concept across the country. It’s a formula Drive Shack and BigShots Golf, owned by Invited (formerly ClubCorp), are applying as well.

“There’s unmatched talent in D-FW,” Khouri said. “It’s a challenging labor market right now, but it’s so much better here than it is anywhere else in the country. … So I have no plans of leaving Dallas.”

As The Colony location surpasses its first year and the Charlotte, N.C., location nears its anniversary, Puttery’s margins are really positive, Khouri said, validating the proof of concept.

The two venues, plus a third that opened in Washington, D.C., in late June, brought in a combined $8.8 million in revenue in the first half of this year, with food and beverages contributing a major portion of the sales. The company’s total revenue in the same time frame was $155.7 million, up over $20 million from a year earlier.

Its traditional golf course business, branded as American Golf, still accounts for most of Drive Shack’s revenue. Its golf course and events revenue totaled $105 million through the first six months of this year.

But Drive Shack has big plans for the Puttery concept. It plans to open four more this year – Houston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Kansas City – and wants to have 50 locations by the end of 2024.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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