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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: Rocco Mediate

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura, Johnny has a serious heart-to-heart with six-time Tour Winner and all-around legend Rocco Mediate. This is a must-listen! They talk gear, sobriety, the 2008 U.S. Open, and Rush.

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 Gear Dive WITB Edition: Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates talks Viktor Hovland

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In this WITB Edition of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates on the ins and outs of Puerto Rico Open Champion Viktor Hovland’s golf bag.

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

They also cover Jim Wells Putters and the legendary Ping Eye 2 wedge.

Viktor Hovland WITB

Driver: Ping G410 LST (9 degrees @ 8.5; flat standard, CG shifter in draw)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Black 6.5 (44.5 inches, D3 swing weight)

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees @ 14.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Blue AV 85 TX

Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (21 degrees), Ping i210 (4-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid (21), KBS Tour 120 X (4-PW)

  • Standard length, .5 degrees flat, D2+

Wedges: Ping Glide 3.0 (50-SS, 56-SS @ 55, 60-TS)

  • 50SS (35.25 inches, 1-degree flat, D3, “Half Moon” Grind)
  • 56SS (35 inches, 1.5-degree flat, D3+)
  • 60TS (34.75 inches, 2-degrees flat, D4)

Shafts: KBS Tour-V 130 X

Putter: Ping PLD Prototype “Hovi”

  • 36″, 20-degree lie, 2.5-degree loft, stepped shaft

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride MCC White/Black 58R

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Realistic expectations

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(Today’s post is one I actually wrote nearly eight years ago, but I’m using it to start a series about “thinking your way to better golf.” I hope you enjoy the next few weeks.)

One of the great regrets of my life is that I missed the fatherhood experience, never having had children of my own. As I get older, I find that I gravitate to the younger folks, and offer my help whenever I can, whether on the golf course, on the water fishing, or just life in general. One of my joys is working with younger kids on their golf. That includes instruction, of course, but what I think is more important for them in the developmental stages is to learn to manage
their expectations. Actually, we all could benefit from that bit of advice.

On Sunday, I had the joy of playing with the 16-year-old son of one of our partners at SCOR Golf. Kyle is a tremendously talented young man who I’ve worked with quite a bit, but he really hasn’t committed himself to golf yet. I’m talking about the kind of commitment that keeps him working hard at it as long as there is daylight. He might not ever get that, and that’s OK, but he hasn’t figured out yet that your expectations can only rise from your achievements, and not from your desires.

On a core level, Kyle has great strength but hasn’t learned to harness it yet. He wants to choose his clubs based on his maximum distance with that club—if everything falls exactly into place. Like most golfers, and especially young ones,
he’s enamored with the power game. When we play, I show him that throttling back and controlling the shot is much more reliable.

What I discovered Sunday is that Kyle has very unrealistic expectations about what a round of golf should really be like. He, like most of us, expects all the shots to be struck solidly and fly like he imagined. So I explained that he hasn’t
earned the right to have such expectations yet. His scores average around 90-95 and his best ever is an 85.

So, here’s my point (finally)

Kyle was off to a good start with three pars and two bogeys in his first five holes. He kind of “fat-pulled” a 4-iron approach on a 200-plus yard par three. His shot left him only 10-15 yards short and left of the green, but he wheeled around, dropped his club and expressed his disgust with the shot. And I got on him about it. “What’s wrong with that? It’s a difficult par-3 with a 20 mph crosswind and you are in good position to get up and down or at least make no worse than bogey on one of the hardest holes on the course.”

I went on to explain that he was only two pars away from tying his best round ever, and if he just played for bogeys – and stay excited—he would probably make twice that many or more. And I seemed to get through to him of the reality
of golf, or his golf at least. He stayed in the moment, with only a little more cajoling from me, and shot an 86—one shot off his best ever! And I MADE him congratulate himself on his accomplishments. Instead of focusing on those few
shots that were bad, and the 2-3 doubles he made, I told him to focus on the good that came out of that round.

So, here’s my point (or points) for managing your expectations, too.

  1. If you are a low single-digit player, you’ll still only hit 2-3 shots a round just like you wanted.
  2. If you play to a 12 or higher, any shot that keeps you in the game isn’t really all that bad.
  3. Regardless of your skill level, there is no such thing as a “birdie hole” when you are standing on the tee. A “birdie hole” can only be claimed when you have executed an approach to makeable putt range.
  4. If you are a 12-15 handicap player, you only need to make 3-6 pars to beat your handicap, as long as you don’t chop up any holes. Bogeys are good scores unless you regularly shoot in the 70s!

So, the next time you are on the golf course, try to set and manage realistic expectations. Your golf will be better for it, and you’ll have a ton more fun.

NOTE: I read a great article this morning by Geoff Ogilvy about the quality of golf being played on the PGA Tour. It reflects what I’ve often said about how the modern tour professional plays the game. Here it is.

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