March 24, 2021 – ZRG recently helped to place Artie Starrs, the global chief executive officer of Pizza Hut, as the new CEO of Topgolf Entertainment Group. Mr. Starrs assumes the role on April 5. Search consultants Brian Meany and Jamie Crittenberger led the assignment. “We are thrilled to have Artie join Topgolf as he leads the company, together with the team, on its continued journey of accelerated growth,” said Chip Brewer, president and CEO of Topgolf’s parent company, Callaway Golf. “I am confident Artie’s leadership, track record of driving a global brand with a focus on operations and franchising, and digital transformation experience will add great value to the innovative team at Topgolf,”
Mr. Starrs will be responsible for the continued growth and expansion of Topgolf as one of the premiere golf entertainment companies in the world, said the company. At Pizza Hut, which is part of Yum! Brands, he oversaw 18,000 locations across 110 countries. Prior to that role, he was president of Pizza Hut U.S. Before joining Yum! Brands, he served as chief financial officer for Rave Cinemas. “I am deeply honored and excited to be joining Topgolf as CEO,” said Mr. Starrs. “This opportunity marries my passion for the hospitality business with my lifelong love for the sport of golf. I could not think of a better time to join this brand, with so much momentum as we head into the future. I’m looking forward to joining the more than 18,000 Topgolf team members to build on their incredible business success and powerful culture.”
Last October, Callaway announced its intention to combine with Topgolf. The $2 billion merger was finalized earlier this month. Mr. Starrs will succeed Dolf Berle, who previously announced his plans to pursue leadership opportunities outside of Topgolf after successfully leading the team through the completion of the combination with Callaway.
The company said that Mr. Starrs is also deeply connected to the Dallas community, where Topgolf is primarily based. He sits on the boards of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, the First Tee of Dallas, the Tartan Board at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and Big Thought (the Creator’s Council).
Topgolf Entertainment Group, which was founded in 2000, is a technology-enabled global sports and entertainment leader built on a foundation of community, inclusivity and fun. Topgolf Entertainment Group’s platforms include Topgolf venues, Topgolf Media, Topgolf International, Toptracer and Topgolf Swing Suite.
Callaway Golf Company is a premium golf equipment and active lifestyle company with a portfolio of global brands, including Callaway Golf, Odyssey, OGIO, TravisMathew, Jack Wolfskin and Topgolf Entertainment Group. Committed to innovation, Callaway manufactures and sells premium golf clubs, golf balls, golf and lifestyle bags, golf and lifestyle apparel and other accessories.
A Fast-Growing Firm
ZRG, founded in 1999, is a progressive mid-sized global executive search firm and one of the fastest growing in the search industry. It provides a full suite of executive, middle-management, and customized search solutions through its offices in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. The firm finds leaders across a broad spectrum of business markets, including aerospace, consumer, education, healthcare services and solutions, industrial, life sciences, non-profit, private equity and venture capital, and technology.
Mr. Meany, a managing partner at ZRG, leads the firm’s global consumer practice. Based in New York, he specializes in the recruitment of CEOs, boards of directors, and C-suite leaders. His consumer and retail client work includes global CPG, middle market consumer, omnichannel retailers, pure play digital, restaurants, food and drug, hospitality, and leisure. Mr. Meany’s clients include publicly held, private, private equity-backed and founder-led models. In his 30-plus years of executive search, he spent 25 years as managing director with Herbert Mines Associates, focused on retail and consumer client work. He also led their globe search group partnership, working with international partners and clients. He began his career at Korn Ferry and Norman Broadbent.
Mr. Crittenberger serves as a managing director in ZRG’s Washington, D.C., office. In addition, he is a senior member of the firm’s consumer and private equity practice groups. With nearly three decades of industry operating and consulting experience, Mr. Crittenberger is a global leadership advisor who assists high-profile sports, entertainment, and media properties in complex assignments. Prior to joining ZRG, he was a practice leader and global partner for Spencer Stuart and Odgers Berndtson, respectively. His diverse portfolio of clients includes those in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, PGA, WTA, FIBA, NASCAR, NCAA, NGBs, Olympic Movement, and more.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media