Oklahoma City-based sports equipment franchiser Golf USA Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on the eve of a court hearing to place the company into receivership.
Founded in Oklahoma City in 1986, Golf USA has franchisees across North America, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia, with more than 100 retail stores in 18 countries, according to its website. As recently as 2007, the company had touted itself as the world's largest golf equipment franchiser.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, one day ahead of a court hearing to place the company into receivership. Golf USA has less than $50,000 in assets and between $500,000 and $1 million in debts, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Golf USA had been due in Oklahoma County District Court on Wednesday for a receivership hearing at the behest of its former president Tom Anthony, who still controls a minority stake in the company.
Anthony, the brother of Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony, moved to sue Golf USA in April over more than $225,000 he claims the company owes him from outstanding loans.
In court documents, Anthony asked the court to appoint a receiver to take control of Golf USA because the company had become insolvent and stopped paying its debts.
Attempts to reach Anthony for comment on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Attempts to reach Golf USA executives also were unsuccessful on Wednesday. Calls to the company's Oklahoma City offices were not returned.
Oklahoma City's three Golf USA stores will remain open and will be largely unaffected by the corporate office's bankruptcy filing, said local franchisee Brad Bowen, who operates all three stores.
“We are saddened by the fact that they had to do this, but we are still open for business,” Bowen said, who once also worked for the Golf USA's corporate office.
Golf USA did not fare well during the last recession, which saw an across-the-board decline in the golf industry, Bowen said. The company had also seen a change in its majority ownership over the past few years, he said. “Hopefully, they will reorganize and come out of this stronger,” Bowen said.
Golf USA had recently experienced tension with some of its suppliers and franchisees.
In December, a Golf USA franchisee in Zimbabwe filed a federal lawsuit in Oklahoma City against Golf USA, claiming that the franchiser's failure to provide essential inventory and other services had caused its store to fail.
In court documents, the Zimbabwe franchisee accused Golf USA of failing to disclose its “declining financial resources, unresolved issues with golf equipment manufacturers and suppliers, strained relationships with the Golf USA franchisee community, and its inability to provide the level of support and assistance required by its written franchise agreement.”
The lawsuit was dismissed when the parties entered arbitration in April.
Calls to Oklahoma City attorney Douglas Gould, who is representing Golf USA in its bankruptcy, were not returned.
We are saddened by the fact that they had to do this, but we are still open for business.”
Golf USA franchisee