BigShots Golf chief executive Tony Wehner has left his role atop the main competitor to Dallas-based Topgolf to take a new position at Main Event Entertainment.
Main Event, headquartered in Plano, announced Thursday that Wehner will join its executive team as chief operating officer. Wehner will oversee customer experience for the family entertainment venue company’s 20 million annual guests, according to Main Event.
“Main Event has a strong reputation as a category innovator and I can’t wait to work alongside such an exceptional team through the next phase of growth for the company,” Wehner said in a statement.
Before joining BigShots Golf a year ago, Wehner held operations roles with several food chains, including Chilis, On The Border, Logan’s Roadhouse and Bar Louie.
“The role that Main Event plays in the lives of families has never been more important and I can’t wait to bring our unique brand of entertainment to millions of guests across our great markets,” Wehner said.
Main Event operates more than 40 venues across the U.S. It’s owned by Ardent Leisure, an Australian company with a portfolio of leisure and entertainment businesses.
Privately-held ClubCorp, the largest owner of private golf courses in the U.S., bought controlling interest in BigShots in 2018. The Dallas-based golf course owner and operator saw BigShots’ hybrid esports/golf game as a way to expand interest in golf, possibly drawing new members to its traditional golf clubs.
Much like Topgolf, the venues are opened through franchising and the experience centers around golf-ball tracking technology, driving range environment and food and drinks. As of Thursday, BigShots’ website still listed Wehner as CEO beside founder Jason Payne and senior vice president Randall Cousins.
In a statement to The Dallas Morning News, ClubCorp CEO David Pillsbury said he will work with the BigShots Golf executives to oversee the business while they seek a successor for Wehner.
“BigShots Golf has a tremendous amount of momentum as we are approaching a number of upcoming partnerships and announcements on the horizon,” Pillsbury said.
The company started or planned to begin construction of a number of standalone golf entertainment venues in 2020 as the pandemic spread across the country. A BigShots Golf franchise is set to open this year north of Fort Worth after construction was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first BigShots location opened in Vero Beach, Fla., in 2018.
BigShots emerged as one of the only serious competitors to Topgolf in recent years, though Topgolf maintains more than 60 locations across the country. In October, Topgolf Entertainment Group announced a $2 billion deal to merge with golf equipment and apparel company Callaway.