Invited’s Stonebriar CC Becomes ‘Haven’ for Next-Gen Private Club Members

 As seen in Golf Business September/October 2022 

By Scott Kauffman, Contributor, Golf Business Magazine:

For nearly five decades after ClubCorp was started by Bob Dedman Sr. in 1957 and ultimately controlled by his namesake son, the family-owned company was synonymous with private golf and country clubs around the world. 

Today, 16 years after Dedman Jr. sold the Dallas-based firm to private equity group KSL Capital Partners, which took the company public in 2013 before it became acquired in late 2017 by its current owner, Apollo Global Management, ClubCorp is still the self-described “world leader in private clubs.”  

However, five years after Apollo completed its $1.1 billion stock/merger deal and took ClubCorp private once again, the golf course owner/operator is undergoing a major transformation. To be sure, the company still has an impressive portfolio of 200 owned and/or operated golf facilities and a variety of private sports and city clubs.

But 65 years after the company invested in its first suburban Dallas course, the company is reinventing itself and no longer is focused singularly on golf. And we’re not talking about the company’s newly-rebranded corporate identity and name, Invited.

The impetus behind the iconic golf company’s ongoing evolution, official name change back in April included, is CEO David Pillsbury, the former co-CEO of American Golf Corp, and former senior executive for Nike Golf and the PGA Tour. After taking over the helm of ClubCorp in June 2018, one of Pillsbury’s early prescient moves was acquiring BigShots Golf and recognizing what eventually would become a booming golf simulator business nationwide.

Now, Pillsbury is betting on the $55 billion video-game industry being the next growth opportunity, courtesy of the company’s partnership with Haven Gaming at Stonebriar Country Club, in Frisco, Texas. 

Invited’s new initiative, which débuted to club members on August 5th, is the first-of-its-kind gaming and esports experience and another example of how the new “lifestyle hospitality brand” is opening its doors to new audiences and non-golf programming. 

At Stonebriar, Haven members aged eight to 18 are now able to play, learn and compete with fellow gamers in their own private hangout. Outfitted with state-of-the-art gaming equipment and dozens of the most popular games, participants of every skill level are provided a safe, social environment in which to explore their passion. 

At the same time, they’ll be building friendships, gaining self-confidence and developing capabilities inside and outside of the game. According to Invited, Core and Haven Academy memberships range between $95-$145 per month for Stonebriar members.

“Gaming has become the dominant form of entertainment for many, especially for younger members,” Pillsbury pointed out. “At Invited, our goal is to seek out and test new ways to build relationships and enrich lives.

“By providing youth with a safe and constructive place to enjoy esports and gaming together in a state-of-the-art environment, we’re pioneering a new way for Invited to achieve those goals. We are excited to introduce this concept and the impact we can bring participating gamers and their families.

“With Haven Gaming as a partner, we believe this endeavor will grow and thrive throughout the Invited portfolio of clubs.”

According to Haven Gaming CEO Greg Skasko, Stonebriar represents a “pioneering opportunity as the first membership-driven club to create a professional-level gaming platform in North America.”

Skasko went on to say: “Invited Clubs are more than just golf and tennis clubs. They are about creating meaningful social connections and extraordinary experiences. What has been missing in the country club ethos are alternative initiatives for younger club members. 

“We are thrilled to bring the ultimate gaming playground to get teens and tweens out of their rooms at home and into a safe environment where we can challenge them to game and grow by setting goals, creating friendships, earning achievements and increasing their leadership, problem-solving and teamwork qualities.”

For Pillsbury, Haven Gaming is yet another bold business move that not only supports Invited’s newly embraced “lifestyle hospitality brand” strategies, but also indicates that the golf business landscape, at least for now, needs to be less about golf if you want to attract that next generation of members.


Scott Kauffman is a contributor for Golf Business | This article was featured in the latest edition of Golf Business Magazine.