Sports have the remarkable ability to unite individuals of all backgrounds and socio-economic levels. However, it is not that simple to expose people to different athletics. One woman is looking to change that narrative and is using golf as a tool to get more women and minorities into the sport.
Tari Cash is the founder of City Swing, a Washington, DC-based virtual golf facility that allows individuals of all experience levels to put their skills to the test. Cash’s motivation to start the brand catapulted after an episode in April 2018. According to CNN, the police were called on five black women for allegedly playing golf too slowly at a semi-private course in Pennsylvania they had recently joined.
Cash has capitalized on early success with the City Swing Foundation, a nonprofit that provides access, free lessons and equipment to underrepresented and underserved communities in the nation’s capital.
The former Under Armor executive spoke with Yahoo Sports about the birth of City Swing, misconceptions about golf and a greater need for minority inclusion within the golf community.
Yahoo Sports: How did you come up with the concept of City Swing?
Cash Rate: “We started the company in 2018, and I think the years before it started was when it really started to click how much I was using golf as a strategic tool to build relationships with executives at the companies I worked with. They were they looked at me differently after we played golf together or talked about our shared love of golf. At the same time, simulation golf and indoor golf were becoming a trend. It was very popular in Asia and was slowly making its way to the United States , but there was really not jumped.
“So the intersection of my understanding that this was an important tool for business reasons and the fact that there wasn’t an indoor golf simulator in DC, those were really the key points that gave me the confidence to say, ‘Let’s go let’s do this.’ We started with a pop-up in 2018 just to see if it made sense. Thankfully, it really resonated with the local community, and once we got the validation, I thought, ‘Let’s try to start a company.'”
YS: Why do you think golf was the solution to connecting with executives as opposed to other methods you’ve tried in the past?
TC: “Yeah. I like that question. When you play golf, you’re spending four to five hours with these people. You’re into a foursome, and most of the athletic activity is a very small part of the overall round. Most of when you’re riding in a cart or walking to your ball, so you’re talking about family, vacations, business, etc. And that’s how quality relationships are built when you’re not in a conference room or a dinner where you can have 10 minutes with someone . Even though it’s a long round, it’s a much more efficient way to build deep relationships.”
YS: I want to address your foundation. Is this something you knew you wanted to create when you first started City Swing?
TC: “Yes, I did. City Swing was born in 2018 and the foundation two years later. But we have always been a social impact company since the beginning. My mission has always been to create spaces where women and people of color feel truly comfortable and connected to the game. The foundation is really our way of being able to go to those groups, provide a really fun and free first golf experience, and hopefully give them the tools they need to really learn the game. My philosophy is that as you learn golf, those other characteristics like leadership and team building will also develop.”
YS: What is one misconception people usually have when you first interact with them about their golf experience, and how is City Swing working to eliminate those misconceptions?
TC: “I think the biggest misconception is that you have to be good at golf to start playing. So a lot of people, especially women, find that they’re actually ready to play the course a long time before they to really start. That really only comes with time and practice. Especially for women, we tend to wait, I think, a little longer than necessary to learn the game.
“At City Swing, we’ll teach you the terminology, how to use the equipment and, of course, etiquette. There are golf techniques that make the game smooth. Once you’ve mastered them, the focus can be on driving Healthy relationships. It’s just about going at your own pace. We all remember the first time we learned to do something, right?
“Women of color are an underrepresented group in general, and they haven’t played golf because they haven’t been invited to play. Not because there’s a lack of interest. We’re making it inviting and welcoming, which in turn sees an increase in curiosity “.
YS: Looking ahead, what are the other goals you want to take on not only with City Swing, but also with the foundation?
TC: “City Swing has three components to it. We have our mortar, the golf truck and the foundation. All three of them work together to make golf more accessible and welcoming. The truck and the studios are great opportunities for us to expand and grow the foundation too. What we’re going to do is focus on mobilizing the golf truck for both events and our foundation. Eventually we’ll open more studios around the country and overseas. The goal is to be a global brand, and I believe that we will get there in due time.”