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Liquidators, Retailers in the Running for Golfsmith’s Assets

The world’s biggest retailer of golf equipment and apparel is on the auction block.

Bids rolled in Monday, ahead of a bankruptcy court-supervised auction Wednesday, for Golfsmith International Holdings, which filed for Chapter 11 last month.

People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Dick’s Sporting Goods, in partnership with liquidators including Tiger Capital Group, had expressed interest in acquiring Golfsmith’s assets. Dick’s already has its own chain of golf stores, Golf Galaxy, with 82 stores in 30 states.

Another potential suitor: Worldwide Golf Shops, parent company to Roger Dunn Golf Shops, Edwin Watts Golf Shops, Golfer’s Warehouse, The Golf Mart, Van’s Golf Shops and Uinta Golf. It’s one of the largest discount golf equipment retailers in the U.S., with 86 stores in 18 states. Worldwide is reportedly in talks with liquidator Great American Group.

A bid also came from Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, which does business as PGA Tour Superstore, and liquidator Yellen Group.

When Golfsmith International filed for bankruptcy last month, it had 109 stores in the U.S. operating under the Golfsmith banner and 55 Golf Town stores in Canada. The Golf Town business was subsequently sold to a group led by Fairfax and CI Investments and the company won court approval to immediately close 20 of its poorest-performing Golfsmith stores in the U.S. Roughly 90 stores are still open, but sources said the winning bidder will likely close some of those.

This year has been a rough one for specialty sporting-goods sellers. A trio of liquidators purchased Sports Authority’s stores after the retailer filed for bankruptcy in March and while activewear is more popular than ever, it’s selling like hotcakes in all channels but the sporting goods one. At the same time, golf has fallen out of favor. Less people are playing the game today—numbers dropped from 30 million in 2005 to roughly 24 million, The NPD Group said—meaning it’s no longer the moneymaker it once was, prompting Nike to exit the club and ball business.