News dropped late last week that Guerin Rife’s Evnroll Putters has been sold to the Korean high-tech firm CREATZ, the parent company of the Uneekor golf launch monitor company.
First reported by Pulse News of Korea, the deal calls for CREATZ to acquire a 70-percent ownership stake in the Carlsbad-based company. Rife will remain as CEO and chief designer. The existing management team will remain and sit on the board of directors.
The selling price is an estimated $15.2 million.
CREATZ, Uneekor and Evnroll
CREATZ is a growing Korean tech firm with a reported $50 million in sales in 2022. Its subsidiary, Uneekor, accounted for $17.6 million on its own.
“We feel that Evnroll, as a 100-percent U.S. milled and technology-driven putter line, is a great fit for Uneekor’s precision analytics in the launch monitor space,” said Eddie Lee, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for CREATZ. “Together, UNEEKOR and Evnroll will represent the highest level of game improvement, encompassing the full spectrum of performance-enhancing technology from tee to green.”
The Pulse report says the acquisition was motivated in part by the January 2024 launch of TGL, a technology-infused simulator golf league founded by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Additionally, CREATZ hopes to leverage synergies with TGL, Uneekor and the growing popularity of home golf simulators.
According to Pulse, CREATZ plans to develop putting analysis features and putting practice programs for Uneekor.
Growing Korean Presence
CREATZ is the latest Korean company to gain a foothold in the U.S. golf equipment market. Last year, Doal Private Equity acquired Super Stroke. In 2021, Centroid Partners bought TaylorMade. A year later, Centroid invested in Concert Golf Partners, owners of 25 high-end golf clubs in the U.S.
In 2011, FILA Korea Ltd. purchased Acushnet for a reported $1.23 billion.
Pulse reports that Evnroll putters are a big seller in Korea, ranking second in putter market share. The deal gives CREATZ and Uneekor a foothold in North America.
“Evnroll was founded on delivering forward look, real innovation and technology that enhances every aspect of putter design and performance,” Rife said in a statement. “Uneekor has the same vision for full-swing analytics.
“We’re excited for the future and what this positive injection of resources and knowledge will do for both our businesses.”
A Sensible Acquisition?
A technology and launch monitor company buying an equipment manufacturer is, at the very least, intriguing. Uneekor and CREATZ obviously believe its upcoming putter analytics technologies will help sell both putters and launch monitors. Additionally, off-course and non-traditional golf is growing in North America. The National Golf Foundation says the off-course market grew nearly 13 percent last year. And COVID helped spawn significant growth in the home golf simulator market.
Rife developed a reputation for putter designs in the early 2000s. He started life as an advertising executive in Chicago before moving to Florida and starting his own agency. He did some work for Disney but his first foray into golf was designing a putter training aid with David Leadbetter.
That led to Rife’s first design, a cavity-backed mallet called True Blue. The mallet featured a milled-out area in the back to scoop the ball up. That milling had the unexpected effect of creating a low CG and extreme heel-toe weighting. And that design led to his idea to put grooves in the putter face to create a more consistent roll.
In 2003, Rife introduced his famous 2-Bar putter which quickly became a mini-blockbuster hit on the Champions Tour. However, rapid growth and the need for more investors meant Rife lost control of his company. He sold it to a Seattle-based company in 2009.
Rife introduced Evnroll Putters in 2016.