The past and future collide as LinksDAO, a global community of NFT holding golf enthusiasts, become set to acquire 116-year-old Spey Bay golf links.
Published: Thursday 16th March 2023 by Ed Battye
With the news hot off the press the true significance of the acquisition (which is currently in the due diligence stage and is set to be closed within the next few weeks) is yet to be fully determined but the fact that a worldwide network of golfers, formed as a DAO (decentralized autonomous organisation) can come together to approve the purchase of a physical asset, such as a golf course, for the benefit and utility of its members in such a short space of time is quite remarkable. It is arguably the largest DAO accomplishment in history.
Spey Bay is one of only a small number of true links golf courses in the World and was founded in 1907 when the legendary Ben Sayers laid out the original course. The 18-hole layout, which has seen some alterations over the years, boasts twelve holes located close to the sea with a handful of them running directly alongside it. The late British prime minister Ramsay Macdonald was a member and the magnificent club championship trophy, which remains at the club, was presented by him.
The golf course is located on a stunning part of the Moray coastline at the mouth of the River Spey with easy access to Aberdeen and Inverness. Top 100 golf courses such as Castle Stuart and Nairn are approximately an hours drive to the West whilst Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen and Trump International are located a touch further to the East. The recently upgraded A9 main road provides greater access to other major cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and of course the town of St. Andrews - the home of golf - which takes around three hours by car.
The course is little known across the wider golfing community but respected individuals including authors, industry professionals and golf course architects have long spoken about their admiration of the links at Spey Bay and in my opinion it is a massive coup that they have snagged this sleeping giant. My own personal review of the course from 2017 can be read here.
It is still uncertain what the exact plans for Spey Bay will be under the new ownership, and how emerging technology will no doubt be involved, but the team at LinksDAO have already spoken to several notable golf course architects, including those with top 100 credentials to their name, about the potential for renovating the links in a sympathetic manner and with respect to the local community.
A clubhouse and caravan park is also included in the sale which provides further opportunities to develop the complex into an exciting destination for Scottish golf over the coming years.
The speed at which the DAO were able to progress to this stage is one of the most impressive aspects of this captivating story. With more than 5,000 unique cryptocurrency wallets holding a LinksDAO NFT (non-fungible token) and a majority vote required to pursue the purchase by the corporation, which was set-up to legally buy the course, the speed at which they acted was lightning fast for a procurement of this magnitude in such a compressed timeframe.
The property only went on the market in early February 2023 with a closing date of noon on the 23rd of the same month and an asking price of 'offers over' £750,000 (~$900,000). The first mention of Spey Bay in the LinksDAO Discord server - which boasts 25,000+ members - was on 3rd February and after lengthy discussions within the community it became apparent that it was something that was largely in support of and on 20th February it was put to an official vote on the blockchain.
During the 48 hour voting window 953 unique votes were cast and the motion was passed with an overwhelming 88.6% vote in favour for, "LinksDAO’s acquisition committee to engage parties necessary to construct a compelling offer for the purchase of Spey Bay Golf Club, and plan to submit an offer by the deadline with the full intent of successfully purchasing the golf course".
Before the vote had even closed a LinksDAO representative had boarded a plane to the UK to meet with both the owners and the broker of the 156 acre estate.
It is highly unlikely, indeed virtually certain, that Spey Bay will not be the last golf course that comes under the LinksDAO umbrella. It was largely expected that their first course would be on US soil, potentially in the South-East, and they are currently in late-stage discussions with a number of properties in America to move forward with the purchase of a second course across the pond. They are also considering acquiring land to build a course from scratch.
Indeed, since inception and particularly over the past year their main focus has been to buy an American golf course that can become established as a 'Top 100' venue but when the opportunity arose to bid for a genuine Scottish links it simply could not be ignored.
One of the main concerns from NFT holders (the majority who reside in the States) was that the purchase of Spey Bay could derail, or at least delay, their task of acquiring a course in North America. However, it would appear that the momentum they have built up over the last month, the war chest available and the experience gained, will actually be more of a help than a hindrance.
LinksDAO was the brainchild of Mike Dudas, co-founder of The Block, when his idea was born on 15th December 2021 after he posted on Twitter the bold idea of a DAO forming to buy a golf course. Other founding members include Jim Daily (co-founder of Teads) and Chris Maddern (co-founder of Button).
Just over a fortnight after Dudas's tweet LinksDAO minted and sold out their NFT collection with 9,090 memberships created in total: 2,727 "Global" passes and 6,361 "Leisure" passes. This raised funds of over $10 million in less than 48 hours with the treasury publicly viewable on the blockchain. Further investment has since been sought for LinksDAO Inc, the legal entity created to own and operate any physical assets that are acquired, with the DAO effectively acting as an advisory board.
A LinksDAO NFT is required to buy a membership at one of their physical golf courses.
Each tier (Global or Leisure) also provides holders with certain perks, including governance rights for LinksDAO, access to events, merchandise discounts in their online proshop and other benefits. A Global pass also gives access to 450+ golf courses via World Vantage, inclusion in their "Global Golf Association" reciprocity network of fellow holders at golf courses across the States and beyond, many of which are private. The DAO also has a partnership with IMG Prestige giving members access to another 200+ elite courses worldwide.
In November 2022 LinksDAO also provided a free mint to their holders- The "Links Champions" pfp collection - which consists of over 10,000 digital avatars with various rarity traits.
More recently, in an attempt to onboard the next 100,000 members the company is set to launch a third membership tier which does not require a NFT and can be purchased via a traditional payment method. You can join the waitlist here.
Over the past 12 months LinksDao has also cultivated relationships with some major brands (Callaway, Bridgestone, Topgolf, Shipsticks, 5iron & Golfbreaks among others) as well as key individuals within the golf industry leading to several perks and benefits for their NFT holders. One of the most recent highlights was when they hosted a chat with Matt Kuchar in their Discord channel.
Earlier this month LinksDAO was named as one of the 10 most innovative companies in blockchain, cryptocurrency, metaverse and Web3 by Fast Company.
A number of prominent celebrities, including NBA star Stephen Curry and actor Bill Murray, are also LinksDao NFT holders.
You can purchase a LinksDAO NFT on Opensea.
Further details can be found at linksdao.io
End of article
Top image credit to Strutt & Parker
How to buy a LinksDAO NFT:
Purchasing your first NFT can be a daunting and complicated process so we have provided a very basic guide below which will hopefully act as an overview and enable you to do further research on each step. It can be a steep learning curve and there are potentially many pitfalls along the way so please do diligent research beforehand.
1. Convert GBP to Cryptocurrency. You will need cryptocurrency in order to buy an NFT so the first thing you must do is convert your British Pound (GBP) to something called Ethereum (ETH). One of the ways to do this is to send your £ to a cryptocurrency exchange (eg: Coinbase or Binance) and convert/buy it there. A word of warning - some UK banks will not allow you to transfer funds to these exchanges. From experience Monzo is one of the most crypto-friendly banks and many people will create a new account with them specifically for this purpose.
2. Create a Cryptocurrency Wallet. Once you have your Ethereum on the exchange it is advisable to move it off the exchange and send it to your own "wallet". A cryptocurrency wallet is essentially a unique address on the blockchain where your Ethereum & NFTs are stored. There are several wallets available and it's important that you choose one that meets your needs. The two main types are hot (stored online) or cold (held on a physical device). Many people use Metamask for the buying, selling (and storing) of NFTs as it can easily be used as a browser extension. However, it is common for NFTs to be moved from Metamask to a more secure wallet for storage after purchase (eg: a Ledger or Trezor). When creating your wallet you will be given a "seed phrase" which essentially gives you access to your funds. It is vital that your seed phrase is never stored online and we cannot underestimate the importance of doing extensive research on best practices for the security of your wallet and funds.
3. Buy your NFT. Now you have Ethereum in your own wallet you can now connect to one of the NFT marketplaces. One of the most popular is called Opensea. Here you can simply select the NFT that you would like to purchase from those listed for sale. You can also make offers on other peoples NFTs but this will require converting your Ethereum (ETH) to something called Wrapped Ethereum (WETH). LinksDAO Membership NFTs can be bought here and the LinksDAO Links Champions can be bought here.
Along the way you will come across something called GAS fees which are small amounts of Ethereum required to carry out transactions on the blockchain.
A more in depth beginners guide to buying an NFT can be found here, however, we suggest doing even more extensive research before you purchase your first (golf) NFT.