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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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The Gear Dive: Discussing the drivers of 2020 with Bryan LaRoche

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with his good buddy Bryan LaRoche. They chat on life and do a deep dive into the drivers of 2020.

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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The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play

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I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Task to target

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In this week’s episode: How having a target will improve your direction and contact you have with the ball.

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