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LinksDAO Stayed the Course. Now, it Owns One

Last Updated: July 5, 2023
Straight from its co-founder, learn how a decentralized Web3 community of golf enthusiasts built a brand and became owners of Scotland’s Spey Bay Golf Club.

When Mike Dudas, Jim Daily, and Chris Maddern initially came together to build LinksDAO, it was cultivated around a singular mission: Create a decentralized autonomous organization for golf enthusiasts and own one of the world’s greatest golf courses.

In March, the second part of that dream was realized after a little more than a year of launching.

LinksDAO outfoxed several other competitors and won the bid to acquire Scotland’s Spey Bay Golf Club, which had been listed for over $900,000.

CEO Jim Daily had been leading the charge to reach this milestone but recognizes how critical the members were in getting this deal done — the community has always been the center of everything they’ve set out to accomplish, and sharing this landmark with those who bought in and supported the mission from the beginning was special.

“One really critical part of our project to this point has been community contribution. This was a golf course that went up for sale publicly, and over the last year, we’ve formed all the relationships to know about all the good options that were coming up,” Daily told Boardroom. “This opportunity was identified by some members of the core team and then also by a handful of community members within the first day of being on the market, so it was kind of two-prong: One, we have a team in the diligence process that allows us to see all the really good places that are coming up for sale, and then two, we have a really active and incredible community that’s also on the lookout. So, it was brought up in multiple places pretty quickly.”

The Web3 and blockchain space has admittedly taken its fair share of hits recently, which has had a negative effect on a lot of other DAOs and similar projects. Nonetheless, LinksDAO has been able to maintain engagement and membership within its community through personal interaction, tangible value, and IRL opportunities among various benefits promised to new and existing members.

“I think the overarching focus that we’ve had on delivering an enormous amount of value well beyond the initial idea is critical. That’s one piece that a lot of Web3 projects have not really achieved to the point that they would have liked. We’ve driven benefits from over 30 strategic partners and companies giving big discounts and incredible value to our members,” Daily said. “We’ve developed private golf course networks that our members are able to tap into and take advantage of. We have a great event strategy and hosted a couple of large-scale in-person events. We also have regional chapters and regional meetups. I think we have an incredible community team that’s always engaging our community on Discord. We’ve had benefits at professional PGA golf tournaments; we’ve really had an obsession with delivering real tangible value associated with NFT ownership. I think that is the primary reason why.”

Another major focus of the organization has been inclusivity, which has historically been a huge issue for country clubs and golf networks to face. Traditional golf club memberships tend to be more about who you know and how much money you have, a recurring barrier to prevent individuals from lower-income communities from participating in the sport. LinksDAO is working hard to remove those barriers to give equal access to people from all over the world.

As Daily described that particular effort:

“What we’re trying to do is smash that concept and make joining this club permissionless. So, if you want to be a member of this community, you can join, and we welcome you with open arms. We also want you to be an integral part of it. There’s also the financial piece, where we want to make sure that we are providing the most affordable and accessible membership for everybody that’s providing value far beyond what they would ever spend on joining. Then, it’s about just making sure that all of our community members are getting together, conversing every single day by the thousands on Discord and elsewhere. We also make sure that we have a strict philosophy to be kind to people, welcome [new] people, form new bonds, and strengthen the community no matter where somebody comes from, or what their background is. I think that we’ve seen all of that really play out organically in an extraordinary way.”

Inclusivity is a theme as it relates to the varying levels of talent throughout this community as well, ranging from amateur players just trying to have fun and learn the game to veteran golfers with years of experience. LinksDAO even counts professional athletes from other sports among its ranks — Stephen and Seth Curry were early members. As aid NFT holders and collectors, they immediately saw the value in what the organization was offering. When they joined, it offered the community some authentic validation and notoriety, as its “Leisure Membership” went from a market value of 0.29 ETH ($892.13) to 0.72 ETH ($2,209.81), and the “LinksDAO Global Membership” went from 1.12 ETH ($3,442.89) to 2 ETH ($6,236) at the time.

Bringing in celebrity names wasn’t even a focal point for the DAO’s founders — the Curry brothers simply liked the product and found it easy to get excited about.

“We didn’t go out and have conversations with them and say, ‘Hey, come join our community!’ They found this project and said this is really cool and we want to be a part of it and bought the NFTs organically on their own,” Daily said. “That’s another thing for us, too: We’re not pumping our product through celebrity involvement. If celebrities want to come to be a part of the membership, we’d love to have them, but what we’re really focused on and obsessed with is how we can make everybody in the community feel like they’re getting the most out of what this project is.”

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Now that they have a foundational home base at Spey Bay Golf Club on Scotland’s Moray coast, the long-term building blocks are starting to lock into place as to what this organization can truly be. Individual members will always play the fundamental role in what’s to come and how their community takes shape over time, but Jim Daily and his fellow co-founders have specific objectives for the future of the group and the experiences they hope to provide:

“There’s going to be a couple of things that happen with the physical course. It’s an extraordinary place that’s right on the ocean in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. It’s the home of golf. For me, there’s no better way or better first home for the modern global golf club than a golf course from 1907 that’s in the home of golf,” the CEO said of the milestone. “Scotland has some of the best golf courses on the planet. They’re really affordable and anybody’s welcome. It’s a country that aligns more with our philosophy in terms of bringing extraordinary experiences in the world of golf to everybody, so I think it’s just the perfect place for us — and then the community does, too, because nearly 90% voted ‘Yes’ on whether we should put in a bid. This opens up a chapter where now we have our first physical club, which is the first of many and we want to have 10 by 2030. We also have members in 40 countries now and want as many of them as possible to be able to access the physical properties and have that experience.”

Another step to maximizing the potential of this community? Continuing the inclusivity mission by broadening access to more individuals to join and participate. On a practical level, that means bringing in enthusiasts who not only have fresh ideas and understand the Web3 landscape.

“We also plan to open up the membership for the first time in over 15 months from when we first sold our membership passes,” Daily said. “They initially sold out in less than 48 hours and we haven’t made any additional membership passes available until now. So, ultimately we want to onboard younger, digitally savvy, and engaged golfers into the community so they’re able to bring a new perspective, new community conversation, and new experiences for everybody. That’s really what we’re focused on.”

What LinksDAO has accomplished within a year is a testament to what’s possible when a little entrepreneurial spirit attracts like-minded enthusiasts in pursuit of a common goal.

That’s the true power of Web3 and they’re setting the blueprint for how communities should be built.

And although Daily and Co. are still at an early stage of this process, the future is bright for community-led brands that can innovate and provide tangible value to their members that seamlessly bridges the gap between digital and physical.

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About The Author
Malcolm Lemmons
Malcolm Lemmons
Malcolm Lemmons former professional athlete turned author and entrepreneur. He is the founder of The Hype Report, a newsletter providing the latest stories and insights at the intersection of sports and web3. He is also a two-time author via "Lessons from the Game" and "Impact Beyond the Game." Malcolm has previously contributed to The Huffington Post.