Edwin Watts Golf Shops LLC, long one of the most prominent golf retailers in the United States, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Fort Walton Beach, Fla.-based chain, which is owned by the Sun Capital Partners private equity firm, is seeking a court-supervised auction of its assets by Dec. 6, according to papers filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. The company estimated its liabilities and assets of $100 million to $500 million, according to the court filing.
IN THE MARKET FOR CLUBS?: Buy direct from PGA Professionals in the Pro Shops 
PNC Bank, which Edwin Watts Golf Shops owes $50 million under a secured financing agreement, will lend the company $38 million to keep it operating until the sale is completed, according to a Reuters report . "A significant number" of its stores – there are about 90 currently operating, most in the Southeast – are expected to stay open, though no specific number has yet been finalized, the company said in a statement.
Edwin Watts, a 22-year-old golf professional at the time, opened his first store in Fort Walton Beach back in the 1960s, and built a chain of stores that thrived for many years. Watts sold the business to private equity firm Wellspring Capital Management in 2003, and Wellspring Capital sold it to Sun Capital in 2007. The company also operates a prominent website.