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WRX Q&A: Forelinx CEO Danny Wax

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The thinning of many traditional golf clubs’ member directories coupled with innovation in the web and mobile golf product and app space is yielding some interesting synergies.

One of these, Forelinx, bills itself as “the best way to book tee times, compete in fantasy golf and play 100s of courses with one membership.”

To find out exactly what that means, we talked with CEO Danny Wax.

GolfWRX: Let’s start with a quick explanation of what Forelinx is for those WRXers who aren’t familiar?

DW: Simply put, Forelinx is an all-new type of golf membership. We offer three core products: online tee times, fantasy golf and business memberships. Members get “Forelinx Points” and use those Points to book tee times across a growing network of courses, compete in fantasy golf competitions or share Points with employees and clients. Memberships are month-to-month or pay as you go and any unused Points rollover. We’re leveraging technology to build the future of golf memberships for the next generation. We believe in golf’s traditions but have added modern touches to push the sport forward and attract new audiences.

GolfWRX: Take me back to the point of origin and the business opportunity y’all saw?

DW: The inspiration for Forelinx has been a compilation of first-hand experiences. Growing up at a country club, I was able to see the pain points that discouraged younger golfers from joining. Long term commitments, access to only one course, food and beverage minimums and expensive monthly dues made the thought of joining intimidating and a financial burden. I’ve been able to pull from personal experiences and other business models like ClassPass and the Epic Ski Pass to build a golf membership that caters directly to the ever-evolving needs of golfers.

GolfWRX: Where do things stand now, and what’s next?

DW: We currently operate in three states (California, Arizona, Nevada) and we’re planning on launching three new markets in 2020. Right now our focus is on market expansion and improvements to our platform in order to deliver the best member experience possible.

GolfWRX: OK. Other side of the coin: Tell me about Forelinx from the business/courses side of things…

DW: One of our core missions since the launch of Forelinx has been to build the world’s most course-friendly tee time distribution network. Online distribution has not seen much innovation over the last decade so we took a hard look at existing models like GolfNow, TeeOff, and Supreme and tried to do what we could to build our model in a way that soothes some of the pain points course operators encounter.

Forelinx comes completely free of charge (no barter, commission or cash) to our course partners. The Points-system we use allows us to camouflage the hard-dollar rates our courses are providing to us as a way to protect the integrity of their rates and brand. Our partner contracts are month-to-month and our partners select rates of their choice for every single tee time we distribute on their behalf.

Each of these decisions helps us build a reputation as a course-friendly distribution option. We want to be extensions of our clients’ existing marketing strategies rather than compete with them — and these core principles are critical in aligning our interests of the golf courses that make up the Forelinx network.

GolfWRX: Integrating fantasy golf is an interesting decision…what’s going on there?

DW: Our decision to move into the fantasy golf space was born out of a desire to find ways for members to enjoy their Forelinx Points between rounds of golf. Our overall vision for this product is to use fantasy golf as a mechanism that makes the PGA Tour more exciting and rewarding to watch. Forelinx members can now draft a team on Wednesday, watch their team compete on Thursday and then use their winnings to pay for their tee time on Friday. This marriage of on-screen PGA Tour engagement and on-course golf participation is unique in the golf industry and gives Forelinx members the unique opportunity to enjoy a user experience cycle not available anywhere else.

GolfWRX: Taking a step back, how do you think Forelinx fits into larger trends in the golf industry? Obviously, you’ve taken something traditional and reworked it…are there lessons there for other segments of the golf market?

DW: We take great pride in the fact that we’re a non-traditional form of golf membership. We believe that our model gives our members flexibility and choice — two characteristics consumers desire when making any type of purchase. While we wouldn’t presume to tell other operators how to run their business, we’d certainly think a focus on those two consumer priorities will ultimately pay dividends to any business in or out of the golf industry.

I think the golf industry at-large has had a relentless focus on its own needs during a decade that has been tough on a lot of golf businesses. The needs and wants of golfers have taken a backseat to the concerns of golf business operators and our methodology at Forelinx is to create new trends instead of following them. We listen to our members and work backward to provide solutions that can help sustainably grow the game.

GolfWRX: Good stuff. Anything else you’d GolfWRXers to know?

DW: I think this last decade has been an interesting period in the golf world. Technology is continuing to revolutionize the on-course and off-course golfer experience, and the struggles in the golf economy have created a lot of opportunity for those willing to break traditional molds. Companies like TopGolf and DriveShack recognized early on that customer desires were changing and saw financial upside in delivering the game to a broader audience in non-traditional bite-size portions.

We at Forelinx see similar opportunities in breaking the traditional mold of the classic single-course golf membership. By building a product that speaks to our consumer’s desire for flexibility and choice both on-course and off-course, we think we’re well-positioned to leverage technology to deliver our members a great experience and our investors a great business.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. SoCal Golfer

    Sep 3, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    I subscribed to Forelinx for a little over a year until they started to heavily push the fantasy golf part of their service. They began to bombard me with emails every day about using my points to gamble on pro golf rather than using them to play. This looks like it is designed so that “members” use and lose points on fantasy golf rather than spending them to play golf. Why? Because the points/money they recoup from you when you lose at fantasy golf goes directly back to them while the points/money spent by members on golf goes directly to the golf course.

  2. Derrick

    Sep 1, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    I may be the only one but that pic of Mr. Wax makes me want to have nothing to do with him. A mean mugging headshot doesn’t seem the best way to market what is still a hospitality business, new spin or not.

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Golf Hall of Fame resumes—what does it take?

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We are back from last week, and Knudson is finally a father! Steve asks what it takes to get into the Golf Hall of Fame, how much do majors count? Knudson talks about his last round and how much fun he had. Finally, we talk about the Rory and Keopka beef that is starting to play out.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Getting more out of your wedges

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When I started SCOR Golf in 2011 and completely re-engineered the short end of the set, I took on “the establishment” and referred to our line of clubs not as “wedges” but as “scoring clubs”—I felt like the term “wedge” had become over-applied to clubs that really weren’t. While I’ve tempered my “respectful irreverence” a bit since then, I still think we are shackled by the terms applied to those high-loft clubs at the short end of our sets.

Think about this for a moment.

It all started with the invention of the sand wedge back in the late 1930s. This invention is generally credited to Gene Sarazen, who famously had metal welded onto the bottom of a niblick to give it bounce, and introduced the basic “explosion” sand shot. Over the next few decades, the sand wedge “matured” to a loft of 55-56 degrees and was a go-to staple in any serious golfer’s bag. In his 1949 book, “Power Golf”, Ben Hogan described the sand wedge as a very versatile tool “for certain shots” around the greens, and listed his maximum distance with a sand wedge as 55 yards.

Even into the 1970s, the pitching wedge was considered the ‘go-to’ club for short recovery shots around the greens. And because the typical pitching wedge was 50-52 degrees in loft, it was very versatile for that purpose. I remember that even as a scratch player in the 60s and early 70s, I would go days or weeks without pulling the “sand wedge” out of my bag—we didn’t have bunkers on that little 9-hole course so I didn’t feel like I needed one very often.

Fast forward into the 1980s and 1990s, people were hitting sand wedges from everywhere and the wedge makers began to add “lob wedges” in the 60-degree range and then “gap wedges” of 48 degrees or so to fill in for the evolutional strengthening of iron lofts to a point where the set match pitching wedge (or P-club as I call it) was 44-45 degrees typically. Along the way, the designation “G”, “S”, “L” and “P” were dropped and almost all wedges carried the actual loft number of the club. I think this was a positive development, but it seems we cannot get away from the pigeon-holing our wedges into “pitching”, “gap”, “sand” and “lob” nomenclature.

So that history lesson was a set-up for suggesting that you look at all your wedges as just “wedges” with no further limitations as to their use. I think that will free you up to use your creativity with each club to increase your repertoire of shots you have in your bag…more arrows in your quiver, so to speak.

For example, long bunker shots are much easier if you open the face of your 50- 54-degree wedge so you don’t have to swing as hard to get the ball to fly further. You’ll still get plenty of spin, but your results will become much more consistent. Likewise, that super-short delicate bunker shot can be hit more easily with your higher lofted wedge of 58-60 degrees.

When you get out further, and are facing mid-range shots of 40-75 yards, don’t automatically reach for your “sand wedge” out of habit, but think about the trajectory and spin needs for that shot. Very often a softened swing with your “gap” wedge will deliver much more consistent results. You’ll reduce the likelihood of making contact high on the face and coming up short, and you can even open the face a bit to impart additional spin if you need it.

Around the greens, your lower-lofted wedges will allow you to achieve more balance between carry and roll, as almost all instructors encourage you to get the ball on the ground more quickly to improve greenside scoring. For the vast majority of recreational/weekend golfers, simply changing clubs is a lot easier than trying to manipulate technique to hit low shots with clubs designed to hit the ball high.

Finally, on any shots into the wind, you are almost always better off “lofting down” and swinging easier to help make more solid contact and reduce spin that will cause the ball to up-shoot and come up short. Too often I watch my friends try to hit hard full wedge shots into our all-too-common 12-20 mph winds and continually come up short. My preference is to loft down even as much as two clubs, grip down a bit and swing much more easily, which ensures a lower trajectory with less spin…and much more consistent outcomes. It is not uncommon for me to choose a 45-degree wedge for a shot as short as 75-80 yards into a breeze, when my stock distance for that club is about 115. I get consistently positive results doing that.

So, if you can wean yourself from referring to your wedges by their names and zero in on what each can do because of their numbers, you will expand your arsenal of shots you can call on when you are in prime scoring range and hit it close to the flag much more often. And that’s really the goal, isn’t it?

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Opinion & Analysis

Autumn golf is the best golf

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For many, golf euphoria occurs the second weekend of April when the flowers start to bloom, courses begin to open, and the biggest tournament of the year is on television. But I believe the absolute best season for golf is the fall.

Let me explain.

SPRING

Spring is the season of hope and rebirth, and for most golfers, it’s the first opportunity to break out new clubs or take the game you’ve been working on all winter to the course for the first time in many months. Depending on where you are in North America or around the world, golf courses are just opening up and the ground is drying out from a winter filled with snow and ice.

Yes, spring is fantastic, you can shrug off the occasional mud ball since it’s probably your first round in four months and you’re willing to cut “the super” some slack for the slow greens, because you’re just happy to be out on terra firma chasing around a little white ball. Your game is rusty. Courses aren’t quite there yet, but it’s golf outside, and you couldn’t be happier.

SUMMER

The dog days. This time of year is when golf courses are the most busy thanks to the beautiful weather. But high temperatures and humidity can be a real deal-breaker, especially for walkers—throw in the weekly possibility for afternoon “out of the blue” thunderstorms, and now you’re sweating and drenched.

Unless you are a diehard and prefer the dew-sweeping pre-7 a.m. tee time when the sun breaks on the horizon, rounds tend to get longer in the summer as courses get busier. And you’ll often find more corporate outings and casual fairweather golfers out for an afternoon of fun—not a bad thing for the game, but not great for pace of play. Summer makes for fantastic course conditions, and with the sun not setting until after 9 p.m. for almost two months, the after-dinner 9 holes are a treat and you take them while you can.

FALL

As much I love nine holes after dinner with eight clubs in a Sunday bag and a few adult beverages in June, nothing compares to the perfect fall day for golf.

The sun’s orbit, paired with Mother Nature, allows you to stay in your warm bed just that little extra, since you can’t play golf when it’s still dark at 6:30 a.m. The warm, but not too warm, temperatures allow you to pull out your favorite classic cotton golf shirts without fear of the uncomfortable sweaty pits. We can’t forget that it’s also the season for every golfer’s favorite piece of apparel: the quarter zip  (#1/4zipSZN).

Courses in the fall are often in the best shape (or at least they should be), since player traffic and corporate tournaments are done for the season. As long as warm afternoons are still the norm, firm and fast conditions can be expected.

Last but not least, the colors—reds, oranges, and yellows—frame the green fairways and dark sand to make them pop in the landscape. Fall is the final chance to get in those last few rounds and create happy thoughts and mental images before the clubs go away for the inevitably cold, dark days of winter.

Fall is meant for golf! So take pictures, smell the smells, and make great swings, because golf season is quickly coming to a close, and now is the time to savor each moment on the course.

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