David Wong, The Guy Behind Deemples That Came Out With A Solution For Your Golfing Needs

Many people always have the impression that golf is a sport meant for rich old people, but that is not the case. David Wong is just another normal chap like us who ventured into golf out of curiosity. Now with an app under his belt for most things golf, we sat down and had a chat with him about his golfing journey.


GARY REUS: Hey there David. It’s lovely to have a chance to chat with you. So, tell me about your background.

DAVID WONG: I was born and raised in Petaling Jaya, Selangor and went to public schools in the area. Got my finance degree from the US, worked there for a bit then came home. In the last 10 years before getting into Deemples, I was in the digital marketing industry, mainly in sales and management roles, covering different parts of APAC, based in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Shanghai, and my last employment was based out of Singapore. 


GARY REUS: You’re one of the main guys behind Deemples, so what was the idea behind it? 

DAVID WONG: The short answer. I couldn’t find people to golf with me, so we built Deemples to solve my problem. 

Longer answer. I started golf when I was 25, it was a gap year in my life that I wasn’t working and I sought out to explore new things – poker and golf. I tried going full time in poker, but soon realised I wasn’t good enough to make it a full time thing. Golf was something I was just curious about, since as a kid we hear people playing golf, but I was never exposed to it. I was more into badminton, basketball, football, rock climbing, the usual sports. 

I got a few friends to go to the driving range with me to try out what golf was all about, we borrowed a golf set from someone, and hit some balls. Then a few of us got lessons, so that we were taught golf in the proper way. Eventually we were ready to go to the golf course, and I loved it, and wanted to do it more and more. My friends were a little less enthusiastic about it, something about the heat, the long durations it consumes, the difficulty, so on and so forth. 

It didn’t help that most Malaysian golf courses require you to have a minimum of two players to get on the golf course, so when my very limited circle of friends who started golfing with me couldn’t play, that meant that I couldn’t play too.

I wasn’t ready to give up the sport, although that would have been an easier thing to do. Then again, good things are never easy. Haha. So I got all thick-skinned and went on online golf forums at that time to find random buddies to play with. 

I did end up finding quite a few friends there, and they invited me into even more golf group chats, but the same problem persisted. Even with a wider pool of people now, the group chats were more for banter than actually looking for people to play with. Most of my invitations for golf games would be flooded with “good morning” videos. 

I thought to myself there had to be a platform out there, to help out with situations like these. This was five years ago and there was an Uber for everything, cars, food, dates, accommodation, and so on. But there wasn’t anything for golfers! 

Sure there were some here and there around the world, most of them in larger golf markets – the US, UK, Australia, and all, but none here in Malaysia. So that didn’t solve my problem. So I set off to solve this problem of mine, otherwise I’d never be able to get a game easily. 


GARY REUS: Why golf? 

DAVID WONG: To most people who don’t golf, it’s just a rich old man’s sport that’s played by people who have a lot of time and a lot of money, on a lot of land, and you don’t get much exercise out of it.  Whilst that’s partially true, there’s a whole lotta younger folks getting into the game these days. Malaysia is also one of the cheapest places in the world to learn, and play golf. 

Most golfers can’t explain why they might be addicted to the game, but I’m guessing it’s mainly because it’s so difficult to master, and you’re always playing against yourself. Compared to say badminton, if you don’t have a compatible playing partner, then the game just wouldn’t be fun. However, because it’s so difficult to master golf, golfers go out there, play a shitty game, declare that it’s the stupidest game ever, and then go home, just to repeat it all over again the next day.

GARY REUS: How can Deemples be used by both beginner and experienced golfers to customise their games and provide a better golfing experience?

DAVID WONG: So Deemples doesn’t directly improve your game, but does provide you with a variety of people to play with that you can learn from, either to do, or not to do. Whether you’re a beginner golfer and playing with someone experienced, or vice versa, you’re only hitting your own ball, but golf is not just about hitting the ball into the hole in the least amount of strokes, but also enjoying the entire experience including learning more about the other golfers through conversation, watching them play, and maintaining your composure whilst playing with them. 


GARY REUS: How did the pandemic affect the current trend of solo travel and its relationship with the golf industry?

DAVID WONG: The pandemic was a booster for the golf industry. Golf became the de-facto sport to play or pick up just because it was a naturally socially distancing sport. Most of the other sporting facilities and gyms were just not open yet because close contact sports, sharing equipment, swimming pools were not allowed at the early stages of COVID. 

Then there was working from home, closed borders so no travel, and for the people that could afford to play golf, COVID lockdowns that meant less business, didn’t mean they had troubles putting food on the table, it just meant that they had way more time on their hands, with nowhere to go, and no bosses looking over their shoulder at the office = more time for golf. 

Whilst international borders are still not open for most, domestic travel has opened up which have seen people visiting local destinations they wouldn’t have if international travel was available. Solo traveling became much easier these days with the advent of technology, you could find travel buddies, or just navigate a destination even though your friends were not available. 

And if you had time, what better way to spend it than four hours at the golf course. With 150 golf courses across Malaysia, what wouldn’t have been possible in golf travel (unless you had three other mates going together), now can be solved by just hopping onto a game on Deemples, and meeting three new golfers at whatever city you’re traveling to! 

What better way to explore the city than having new found local golf buddies show you around, then three friends from the same city as you fall into tourist traps. 


GARY REUS: Where is the best course you ever played?

DAVID WONG: I can’t remember all the golf courses I’ve played at, but one of the best courses I’ve played recently was at the Ocean course at The Els Club at Desaru Coast in Johor. The course was aesthetically beautiful and even though most say that it’s an easy course, it wasn’t for me with a ton of water and penalty areas lurking around. Naturally I didn’t play my best game there, but I sure was wowed by the beauty, layout and challenge that it produced. 


GARY REUS: Which course do you wish to play at?

DAVID WONG: Any course that I’ve never played at before. I don’t have a dream golf course to play at, because I wouldn’t know which course would be nice to play at if I haven’t tried them all. Right now on my bucket list of golf courses to try in Malaysia would be: The Els Club at Teluk Datai, Langkawi, and Villea Rompin at Rompin, Pahang. I’ve heard lotsa good things about these golf courses, so I definitely wanna try them out. 


GARY REUS: How has the golf industry changed post-pandemic?

DAVID WONG: Before the pandemic, golf was seeing a slow death. Golf courses globally were closing down due to low participation, mostly citing reasons I mentioned earlier – a round of golf taking too long, equipment too expensive, no excitement in golf media or the professional circuit. 

Then in 2019, Tiger Woods won the Masters after 11 years of not winning anything, and everything got exciting again. Then in 2020 when COVID hit, rounds globally increased by 25% just in a year, because of everything I mentioned earlier – no travel, work from home, excess funds from not traveling, more time, safer sport. 

In 2021, golf saw a declining growth compared to 2020, but still growth nonetheless. So whilst this steep growth won’t last forever, it was something the golf industry definitely needed to replace the previous decline, and charge up the industry with new and young blood that will stay in the game for a long time. 

GARY REUS: Your favourite golfer and why?

DAVID WONG: I don’t have a favourite golfer, same reason as why I don’t have a favourite golf course. I’ve enjoyed the company of the majority of the people I’ve played with, and I look forward to the next game with someone new. There are a few things I enjoy about different golfers.

I enjoy watching women golfers golf, because their swings are naturally way more effortless and effective than the typical golf swing of men golfers, who for the most part has ego in play (not all, just generalising). Us men should definitely take a page out of these women golfers’ swings, so we can golf better, less strenuously, and typically have a better result!

I enjoy playing with older folks with wisdom and experience to part. I naturally tend to ask a lot of questions, and these long golf sessions give me the opportunity to learn as much as I can from them 🙂 

I also enjoy playing with folks way younger than me. The consumer habits and even digital habits of these younger people are so different even though I thought I’m digitally savvy. The platforms they use, how they use it, and ways they see things are so different from when I was a kid, and I’m always interested in the latest games they’re playing, the new platforms they use and all. 

And lastly, I love those that give me a good trash talking on the golf course, and eggs me on to take riskier shots that I normally would. Golf is a game of risk and reward. You can play it safe, but then again where’s the fun in that? 🙂 


GARY REUS: Thanks for having us, David. Last question out of curiosity. Aside from golf, what other sports do you love?

DAVID WONG: Before golf, I used to be competitive in badminton and bowling, which I used to represent my school in. Later on, I ventured more into rock climbing, and the last sport that I took up was wakeboarding which I haven’t had the pleasure of doing much after returning to Malaysia from Singapore, since it’s way more expensive here than there. But yes, I love trying any new sports, that’s on surface level, so golf and surface water sports are fine, but no skydiving or diving for me please. No urge to try, and too scary for me haha!

  • Gary Reus

    A British bloke who writes and interviews the hidden gems of the current world. No, I'm not related to Marco Reus.