The wide world of Web3 is taking its first swing at the game of golf with LinksDAO — and they’re taking everyone with them (including Stephen Curry).
It’s 11 a.m. in Atlanta on an icy January morning with temperatures right above freezing.
Jim Daily, CEO of advertising giant Teads, hops on and off of calls before his early afternoon tee time, making sure to get a round in before an afternoon full of meetings and emails. While his Air Jordan golf spikes are sure to make noise on this chilly day in Hot-lanta, the biggest buzz will be coming from his constantly vibrating cell phone as he circles the course.
The steady stream of notifications customarily includes everything from corporate calls to Google Calendar reminders.
But the majority of the messages come from Discord conversations amongst members of LinksDAO.
Ideated over the latter weeks of 2021 and launched on January 1st, what’s dubbed as ‘the world’s greatest golf and leisure club’ lives as the convergence of the Metaverse and the Masters. By allowing the Crypto community to rewrite the rules of the country club, Web3 is instantly reimagining the Scottish sport from the 15th century in real time.
“Me, Mike Dudas, and Chris Maddern are big believers in Web3 and Crypto,” Daily told Boardroom of LinksDAO’s founding team. “We were looking for ways to change the way that people see that space.”
So far, it hasn’t taken long.
In just 48 hours, NFT-authenticated memberships for LinksDAO sold out and raised $11 million. It was all spurred by a chance tweet from co-founder Mike Dudas, and the momentum has only mounted in the time since.
“It went parabolic immediately,” beamed Daily. “Within a day, there were thousands of people in the Discord that were actively talking and ideating.”
As alluded, the money made off the launch of LinksDAO is more about change and less about esteem. Using a shared love of golf as the common thread, the three mavericks aimed to demystify the quick clout and speculation stigmas associated with NFTs by offering tangible value through the collective clout of the LinksDAO community.
Q: What is a DAO?
A: Distributed Autonomous Networks are venture capital funds directed by the investors themselves rather than an organizational hierarchy. DAOs leverage cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to make (typically large) investments, and are generally able to do so more quickly than with a traditional VC model.
“We wanted to tie in real-life benefits and experiences with NFT ownership,” explains Daily. “There’s a lot of nonsense in NFTs and we’re out to really provide an enormous amount of benefits for our NFT holders in almost an obsessive way.”
While LinksDAO’s non-fungible tokens do live as digital collectibles, the added value of ownership extends beyond simply having a piece of online art others do not. These benefits include promotions and discounts tied to partners like Devereux, Ship Sticks, and more.
“There’s a lot of NFT holders with a lot of star power,” notes Daily. “It’s actually pretty wild.”
And it’s not only wild; it’s tangible. Since Curry joined LinksDAO in January, the club’s Leisure Membership and LinksDAO Global Membership values have gone up 248%, coming in at $892 and $3,443, respectively.
“He’s in the Discord,” Daily says of the two-time NBA MVP. “We’re DMing back and forth with him on how we can move the game forward and we’re excited to be involved with his charity that we just voted on. Everybody’s excited to give back and it’s great to have him as part of the project.”
Weeks after the Golden State Warriors superstar purchase and upon time of publishing, OpenSea sales see Global Memberships going for upwards of $5,900 with Leisure Memberships fetching right above $2,000.
Currently, the LinksDAO community claims about 5,300 NFT holders, all of whom are afforded access to the community Discord when it comes to deciding how funds are spent in regard to growth and philanthropy. NFT holders also have a say in precisely where the community’s first physical course will be built.
While sharpshooters like Steph and JJ who call golf a pastime have shown interest, many who make a living off the game played on the greens have been wooed just the same.
“So many golf loyalists want to be involved,” Daily said. “We’ve gotten cold-called by a bunch of the top golf course designers and architects to be involved.”
Daily also notes interest from “some of the biggest and most established golf companies” as well as inquiries from “multiple PGA Tour players per week.”
With engagement from all angles and decision-making democratized through Discord, the LinksDAO community compiled in a matter of months may possess the power to change the sport that’s centuries old.
Better yet, it could be happening faster than you think.
Inclusive is the New Exclusive
While winter weather and barriers to entry prevent many golfers or would-be golfers from getting on the course, the community conversation taking place within LinksDAO is already looking to push the pace of play.
“Discord is a crazy platform,” Daily notes. “We have 14,300 folks in there and the amount of engagement from the community is through the roof. It’s amazing to see how far this project has come in six weeks.”
Not only does Discord allow activity and conversation amongst members, but it empowers members to make suggestions and talk strategy regarding the future of LinksDAO at a rate unlike anything the game has traditionally seen.
“It flips the country club model of having a traditional board on its head,” LinksDAO NFT holder and community member Nick Walker said. “At a country club, you might have a board meeting in the winter with nine people controlling the entire idea of what happens that spring. Here we have 5,000 people voting in 24 hours and it’s done. The pace is super furious and it’s been a rush.”
This means much to a sport that’s often struggled to see true evolution or change.
When considering the power players in the game of golf, one might imagine age-old institutions tied to dated rules, discriminatory dress codes, and old ideas.
While Daily and his team at LinksDAO don’t have anything against country clubs or the heritage aspect of golf, they are looking to use new ideals of community and technology to make the game more inclusive than it’s ever been.
“We want to usher a very established sport into a newer era that’s more democratic, egalitarian, inclusive and accessible,” Daily says. “Philosophically, we have something really interesting here.”
Currently, LinksDAO is in active talks with charities regarding financial access to push forward inclusion and diversification in the game of golf. While the Discord community and co-founders are currently taking suggestions and calls as to where the first physical course will be built, Daily is adamant that access is the most important aspect.
“The cost of entry is going to be a heck of a lot less than anywhere else,” states Daily. “The community in which we build it in, it’s important that it’s accessible and playable for the entire community. We’re not trying to build up walls, we want to welcome people and bring more people into the game.”
While the location of the first LinksDAO course is still being decided, the aim is to make membership more accessible as noted with Discord members and NFT holders having first access to play and perhaps even a say in how it’s designed.
“When we think about opening our first physical course we’re going to do things a lot different than a traditional country club,” Daily said. “I’d love to have the community have an input on the style and the location. There’s so much that goes into finding the right property, the right designer, and creating an incredible golf experience so the community has to be in lockstep every way.”
This all appears necessary for a sport that’s full of funding but historically big on barriers. Daily sees LinksDAO as a vehicle to make golf younger and more fun, looking to rethink the country club experience both in real life and in the metaverse.
As the advertising CEO laces up his Jordans before his tee time in Atlanta, it’s still hard to fathom just how far a Tweet has taken his hobby and far the LinksDAO community has spread.
“With this project, we want to have a big, active, excited community,” says Daily. “Almost 30% of our NFT holders are not in the US. We want to connect this large global network of golf enthusiasts and Crypto enthusiasts.”
To those grandfathered into the game of golf and those priced out, the world of Web3 may seem both daunting and at the same time an unexpected bridge to bringing the game forward.
Make no mistake, LinksDAO is intent on leveraging its influence to allow more people to play the game of golf, using NFTs as a means to change access — not just as avatars or digital doodads.
“The model for membership and the ability for more people from more backgrounds? We need to focus on that and we need to do that as stewards of the game of golf,” closes Daily. “Golf is not going to survive unless it can become more successful and more inclusive — and that also happens to be the right thing to do.”