This is how the game actually grows.
This year we want to show some love to brands in the golf industry that are making a splash in the mainstream and changing the faces represented in the game we love. Making the modern game of golf reflect those that play it is one of the foremost challenges facing the sport, and these founders are establishing that anyone and everyone is welcome to play golf — and can be here to stay.
Check ’em out.
Founded by Jordan Griffin and former NFL player Matt Daniels, Blackballed Golf is one of the newest entrants into the golf apparel game. Last week, on February 18th, the brand dropped its very first collection. The name comes from golf’s problematic history of, whether explicitly or implicitly, preventing Black golfers from sharing fairways.
But the story for the duo goes deeper. Matt’s grandfather, William “Buddha Boy” Owens Jr. was himself a professional golfer. While Matt grew up visiting notable courses with his touring grandpa, it wasn’t until later on that he fully grasped the gravity of Buddha’s stories of exclusion.
When Jordan came up with the idea for the company, the challenging history was summed up perfectly in the name and logo: Blackballed. Today they’re still in the early days of the business, trying to give the next generation a new mindset about golf. “Provide the drip, and get it to the youth,” Matt said. But when they’re not working on the product or Blackballed content, Jordan and Matt are just trying to beat each other on the course. And for curious minds: yes, those jackets will be on sale soon.
Only a few years in, it’s safe to say: Trap Golf in the building. Professional caddy Wayne Birch, better known as Wayne-o Drain-o for his finesse with the flatstick, is a dedicated looper for PGA TOUR pro Troy Merritt. By day he’s traveling with Troy from tournament to tournament, but in what little downtime he has, Wayne has started the Trap Golf brand that’s taken off online.
Wayne grew up in Atlanta, GA. “Everything around me was the exact opposite of golf.” But when he had the perspective to see golf as a different kind of trap, he realized the power that the game could have in inspiring local Atlanta youth. “If a kid hears the word ‘trap’ and thinks Trap Golf, he’s gonna think differently about the trap. It’s gonna be a different association.”
Since landing on the name Trap Golf, Wayne has partnered with local artist Aaron Munn and golf personality Roger Steele to catapult the brand to new heights. With Aaron nailing the apparel art and Roger upping the digital visuals, Trap Golf is in the building for good.
Wayne’s parting words when he sat down with RGC? Stay Trappy.
Prolific entrepreneur Jonathan Reed out of Houston, Texas founded his brand Golfer Bro just last year in 2020, and the company aims to represent Black golfers everywhere. After successful ventures into his own cigar brand and coffee brand, Mr. Reed was asked by a friend to drop a logo on a hat for the golf course. Overnight, Golfer Bro was born.
The brand’s logo makes it clear that representation in the golf world is central to the Golfer Bro mission. “It’s simple. It’s a brown-skinned person on a shirt, or on a hat,” said Brand Ambassador Matthew Taylor. “But that’s the kind of thing that will get someone to say, ‘Maybe I’ll give golf a try.’” The simplicity of the logo is striking out on the course, and the cartoonish portrayal within the logo clearly resonates with the younger generation.
And Golfer Bro doesn’t stop at golf. They’ve got products you won’t find from any other brand in the golf industry, like yoga pullovers and tennis gear. Follow along with Golfer Bro and see where they go beyond golf — for both men and women’s apparel.
What started out as a youth golf clinic in Baltimore around 2000 spawned into the Yooto’pea Golf brand — a phonetic spin-off of the word ‘utopia’ that first resonated with local parents. From there, the graphic tees and polos took off around town and beyond as the perfect option for golfers who were looking to buy from a small business and didn’t want to pay $80 or $90 for a ho-hum performance polo from Nike or Adidas.
Your caddie does so much more than carry a bag — they’re more like your personal shrink for the day. To learn more about how they read minds, Connor Laubenstein went to Bandon Dunes, the Mecca of American caddying, and played with one named Squid.
President DeBrandon Jews and his creative business partner Michael Floyd make dedication to craft the focus of their business, and even though the brand has been going strong for twenty years, the team has continued to push the envelope and try new things. Recently, the they’ve ventured into fine leather goods like scorecard holders, ball markers, and shoe bags to go along with their existing range of apparel.
Overall, Yooto’pea gear has a timeless feel, and it’s exemplified in DeBrandon’s personal style and his own golf game. Yooto’pea’s leather gear, and the Gatsby headwear in particular, feel like they were plucked from an earlier century — or if they aren’t subject to the laws of time at all.
So next time you tee it up around Baltimore, look for someone smooth-swinging a persimmon.
That’s DeBrandon. That’s “Timeless Golf.” That’s Yooto’pea.
College golf teammates at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Olajuwon Anajaku and PGA coach Earl Cooper have been making waves of late through their golf apparel label Eastside Golf. And after NBA point guard Chris Paul was seen head-to-toe in Eastside last season? The brand has been everywhere from ESPN to GQ.
Immediately recognizable is the company’s distinct logo: a golfer with a gold chain swinging in his backswing. “For the younger generation to see that logo and think golf can be cool, I can be myself, and that’s what the jeans and sweatshirt and chain represents,” Anajaku told ESPN a few months back. “I can be myself and look however I want to and get into the game of golf, because a lot of times when you go to a country club, you have to fit into this box. But this way, you can be yourself outside of that box, but still play golf.”
Anajaku teamed up with Cooper to use their memorable apparel to push the boundaries of golf beyond the clothing that golfers wear. And when you’re trying to show future golfers that there’s more than one way to play the game? It doesn’t hurt to have what may be the coolest umbrella in golf.