Austin-based Golfsmith International Holdings yesterday announced it has agreed to a $97M sale to Canadian golf retailer Golf Town in a deal "that will create the world's largest specialty golf retailer,” according to Lori Hawkins of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Golf Town, which has 54 stores in Canada and seven in the Boston area, agreed to pay $6.10 a share for Golfsmith. The two companies said that they “expect to close the deal in the third quarter." Current Golfsmith CEO Martin Hanaka "will become CEO of the combined company, which will become private.” Golfsmith is the "largest golf retailer" in the U.S., with about 85 retail locations. The company employs "about 350 people" in Austin, Texas, where it has been headquartered since ’73. Golfsmith President, COO & CFO Sue Gove said that the company will “maintain its Austin operations.” She added that the combined company's new corporate name “hasn't been determined." Gove said that when the deal closes, Golf Town stores in the U.S. “will be renamed Golfsmith, while existing Golfsmith stores will retain their name.” In the future, all Canada stores “will operate under the Golf Town name and all U.S. stores will operate under Golfsmith” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 5/15). GOLF DIGEST’s Mike Stachura reported Gove will “become the President and COO of the combined company.” The Golfsmith model in recent years “has been toward developing large square-footage ‘experiential’ retail outlets with multiple hitting bays, large putting greens and an emphasis on clubfitting and increased apparel offerings.” In addition, Golfsmith has seen “substantial growth in the online arena." Stachura noted Golf Town’s model “is similar,” as the company is Canada’s “No. 1 golf retailer” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 5/14).