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Report: 2 companies plan bids for Austin-based Golfsmith

Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods has set its sights on ailing Austin retailer Golfsmith, according to media reports.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters on Tuesday said that Dick’s, which has stores at The Domain in North Austin, the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave and Stone Hill Town Center in Pflugerville, was considering a bid for Golfsmith, which filed for bankruptcy in September.

The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware listed debts and assets of as much as $500 million each.

In addition to its namesake stores, Dick’s also owns the Golf Galaxy chain, which pulled out of Austin a few years ago.

Another company, Santa Ana, Calif.-based Worldwide Golf Shops, is also said to be interested, Reuters said.

Worldwide Golf Shops owns stores operating under several different names nationwide, including Edwin Watts Golf, Roger Dunn Golf Shops, The Golf Mart, Golfers Warehouse, Uinta Golf and Van’s Golf Shop.

Several Worldwide Golf Shops locations are in Texas, though none are in the Austin area.

With a bankruptcy auction for Golfsmith set to happen as soon as Wednesday, the Austin-based company could find itself in new hands by the time the all-important holiday shopping season kicks off.

But an unsuccessful auction, Golfsmith said in court filings, could prompt the company to liquidate its assets.

While the U.S. stores are up for grabs, a joint venture of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and CI Investments Inc. offered last month to buy the company’s Canadian business, which operates under the Golf Town brand.

Golfsmith, which has been headquartered in Austin since 1973, has about 350 employees at its corporate offices and its two Central Texas stores, at 11000 Middle Fiskville Road in North Austin and 10001 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum area, the company told the American-Statesman last month.

It’s not yet clear if Dick’s or Worldwide Golf Shops, if they win the auction, would keep the Golfsmith name or allow its corporate offices to remain here in Austin.

Prior to calling Austin home, Golfsmith founders Carl and Barbara Paul ran the company out of their home in Edison, N.J. It got its start in 1967.

Until the 1990s, the company primarily operated as a catalog business.

Golfsmith’s first major round of expansion began in 1995. Seven years later, First Atlantic Capital bought a majority stake. Eventually Golfsmith merged with Golf Town and was taken over by OMERS Private Equity Inc., part of the Ontario municipal employees’ pension fund.

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