How Eastside Golf is using streetwear and other professional sports to attract new audiences to golf | Golf equipment: clubs, balls, bags

“If you’re a golf business trying to grow the game, how are you going to achieve that by selling to existing golfers?” Ajanaku said. “We’re really going to get as far away from the game of golf as possible and then we’re trying to bring in all these people.”

If Eastside Golf’s strategy doesn’t make sense just yet, a new collaboration they’re unveiling with the NBA will make it that much clearer. The line is called “Playing Golf After This” and the slogan will be printed on t-shirts and eventually other apparel featuring NBA team logos and colors. The Warriors, Hawks, Bucks, Suns, Knicks, Bulls and Lakers will be the first team logos represented by the t-shirt release. The capsule will be available exclusively on the Eastside Golf Websitewhere more NBA gear is expected to drop in the coming months.

The Michael Jordan lore sparked the “Play Golf After This” concept for Ajanku. Instead of resting before and after games, MJ frequently played 18 or even 36 holes, at the peak of his career nonetheless. These stories highlight Jordan’s athletic prowess, but they also demonstrate his fervent dedication to the game.

Beyond the literal meaning of the teaser line “Play golf after this”, Ajanaku wants to share the greatest benefits of golf with potential newcomers. It’s no secret that professional athletes love golf, whether they’re retired legends or stars in their prime. Steph Curry, Tom Brady, CC Sabathia, etc. Eastside Golf’s NBA collaboration is meant to get people thinking: why golf? Ajanaku and Cooper use a simple phrase on a t-shirt to help new communities capture the beauty of the game they love.

“Let’s say you see Chris Paul walking down the tunnel and he’s wearing the Eastside Golf X NBA t-shirt. You will ask, what does he do after the game? He plays golf after that,” Ajanaku said, describing the inspiration for the line. “Let’s say you have a child who goes to school. What does he do after class? Now he also wants to play golf.

Eastside Golf wants to make golf cooler, but they don’t necessarily embark on that mission by targeting existing golfers. Ajanaku and Cooper of course want to get the attention of long-time players and golf establishments, and they have. Cooper is a PGA Professional and one of Golf Digest’s top young teachers. If you stop by the pro shop in Whistling Straits, you’ll see the Eastside Golf logo sweatshirt. But the company truly stands out for its ability to exist in two worlds. Eastside Golf apparel is also offered by rapper Fat Joe’s boutique, Up NYC. It’s not easy to find a line between a major championship venue and a streetwear store in the South Bronx, and the brand has done just that.

Ajanaku and Cooper, who won a national championship together at Morehouse College, have not had an easy journey to this point in their brand’s success. Eastside Golf was Ajanaku’s idea. The brand name refers to the eastern part of Atlanta, where Ajanaku was born and raised. After graduating from Morehouse, Ajanaku had no plans to use his accounting degree yet. Desperate to try his hand at professional golf, he began pitching to organizations, lawyers, or anyone who wanted to listen to him to acquire a potential sponsor. Ajanaku spent two years trying to find more sustainable funds for the daunting path to professional golf, but was unlucky. He won two mini-tours, but eventually gave up the effort and took a job in commercial finance.

Nine years later, Ajanaku was about to take on a new role in corporate America, but knew something was wrong. The golf dream was still at the top of his head. A wacky new idea has surfaced: Ajanaku could create its own brand and logo, and become its own sponsor.

Eastside Golf’s current logo features a black, mid-back golfer wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and a gold chain. Ajanaku designed the popular logo to look like him. It was Cooper, Ajanaku’s best friend, who encouraged him to put the logo on a T-shirt.

“The logo has a representation. It means I can go to a public golf course in jeans and a sweatshirt and a chain and really just swing my golf club and enjoy the game,” Ajanaku said. “He says, ‘I can be myself, I can wear clothes that I feel comfortable in and represent how I want to be on the golf course.

Initially, Ajanaku put their logo on a singular T-shirt with an iron on. When he first wore the homemade sample around Detroit, his residence at the time, he was overwhelmed by the number of passers-by who stopped him to ask questions about the design. The aspiring pro knew he had created something special. He started the business in June 2019 and started shipping products by hand in November.

“I emptied my savings, sold all my cryptocurrencies, used all my credit cards, the 401k, everything”, Ajanaku said.I took it upon myself to make t-shirts, sweatshirts, umbrellas, everything…The first 2,000 orders came from my apartment in Detroit. I wrapped them all myself with thank you cards, that was just me.

The brand’s ultimate vision really began to take shape in February 2020. Ajanaku told Cooper that he wanted to take Eastside Golf to the PGA Show, an annual golf industry show in Orlando. Cooper was hesitant at first, knowing the world of golf and its old-school tendencies as a PGA professional for seven years at the time. Despite these fears, the couple flew to Florida, with Cooper joining Ajanaku as an official business partner more than just an advisory friend. With a backpack full of gear, the two former college teammates roamed the lounge to network with whoever they could and were pleasantly surprised at how well their idea was being received by the golf world. They left Orlando with their first retail orders, several new contacts and lots of additional exposure.

Eastside Golf was starting to make a name for itself in golf, but the real opportunity for growth lay beyond that. Ajanaku received an Instagram message from CJ Paul, Chris Paul’s brother, asking for two of everything on the Eastside Golf website.

“The moment that really took us to the next level was Chris Paul. On NBA Boycott night, Chris Paul wore our gear head to toe,” Cooper said. was not just a sports story, it was national reporting.”

Paul’s Eastside Golf outfit skyrocketed sales, prompting the collaboration of their dreams to come to fruition. The viral moment caught the attention of the vice president of Jordan Brand at the time, Gentry Humphrey, who introduced the two to Michael Jordan. The Hall of Famer fell in love with Eastside Golf.

“He told us, ‘You have a great story, and at Jordan Brand we like to tell the best stories,'” Ajanaku said.

This relationship resulted in Eastside Golf securing the first-ever collaboration on an Air Jordan golf shoe. The Jordan 4 Retro Golf x Eastside Golf Shoe features gold and gray accents, along with Ajanaku’s original logo on the sneaker’s tongue. It resells for more than $1500.

“The Jordan shoe came out and it made our company unique,” said Cooper. “It was a golf shoe, but it dominated sneaker culture.”

It’s not just Eastside Golf’s impressive collaborations and extensive social media following that sets the brand apart from other golf companies (Eastside Golf’s Instagram handle has over 50,000 followers). Ajanaku and Cooper are proud of their strategy to increase the inclusiveness of the game

“A lot of the time other businesses are run by people who have had careers outside of golf and say, ‘Hey, I’m cool, let me try to bring my cool to golf.’ But we never left the game. We were in. The game is catching up to where we are,” Cooper said.

Ajanaku and Cooper are two ambitious golf and streetwear enthusiasts who simply want new communities to enjoy and enjoy the game that shaped them as young adults. In the long term, the partners hope to expand Eastside Golf beyond apparel. A non-profit scholarship fund for black and diverse PGA professionals and a golf teaching academy are two of the avenues they want to explore later. In the meantime, the power of the Eastside Golf logo continues to blaze new trails on its own.

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