Eastside Golf And Jordan Brand Are Teaming Up For First Golf Sneaker Collaboration
Golf is a sport you can play at any age. Golf is a sport you can play no matter your ethnicity. But golf has never been a game for youth-filled, street-style kids. Eastside Golf is here to change all of that. With their first-ever collaboration, Eastside Golf has partnered with the Jordan Brand, creating Air Jordan Retro IV sneakers with spiked soles for peak golf performance. Beginning Friday, July 23, 2021, there will be a raffle for access to purchasing on the August 7 drop.
Eastside Golf is a lifestyle apparel brand that bridges youth and street culture with the traditions of golf. The traditional golfing aesthetic is combined with the eclecticism that exudes from the founders Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper. These two Morehouse College alumni have established their presence in the golfing community as a top PGA teacher in Cooper, and Ajanaku as a PGA minority champion.
Ajanaku started playing golf at the tender age of six in his hometown on the Eastside of Atlanta. He would ultimately garner a scholarship to Morehouse College. Cooper would start out caddying at the local country club in his hometown of Delaware. Both of the golf enthusiasts would meet and bond in college over a genuine love for the sport of golf. But, it’s unlikely they would have thought they could make it a career and advance beyond the yard of their Alma mater.
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Ajanaku originally founded the brand while living in Detroit. Ajanaku says, “I was raised in golf – middle school, and high school. I ended up getting a scholarship to Morehouse College, and that’s how I found Earl. In college, we won the National Championship in 2010. [We’re] used to winning together.” The duo would be establishing the network they needed for each other in those moments.
Ajanaku can recall his pro career starting, “after college [Earl] went his route to PGA professional [teaching]. But, I turned pro in golf after college. I did that for two years. I won a couple of mini-tour events, so I do have some professional wins under my belt. But, it got to the point that I couldn’t afford golf anymore. It’s an expensive sport, and as far as playing professional golf, you need about $100,000 to $150,000 to sustain [your career].”
Ajanaku grew frustrated with the mundane duties of office work. He says, “I took my professional route – my major was accounting. I was in commercial finance for about nine years. I was about to become a VP at a finance firm out in San Diego. It got to a point [where] I got home [one day] and was just like, ‘this ain’t it.’ I wanted to play golf. I knew I wouldn’t find sponsors, it was going to be tough.”
In keeping his spirits up, Ajanaku dove into his passion and leaned onto himself. “I just made a logo. The logo that you see, jeans, sweatshirt, and [gold] chain, it was supposed to just be me. Putting it on my polo and my bag. I showed it to Earl and he said, ‘put that on a t-shirt,’ ” Ajanaku remembers him saying.
“I found a Gildan [tee], ironed [the logo] on, and it probably cost me 20 bucks. I went downtown Detroit, and I maybe got stopped 50 times. Same questions; ‘Who are you?’; ‘What’s that logo?’; ‘Do you play golf?’; and ‘Where can I get it?’ I ended up making a clothing brand of sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, and socks, finding the highest quality [material] for each piece. I started the company in June of 2019.”
Ajanaku would manifest the resources to fund a professional golf career and simultaneously start his entrepreneurial journey. He recalls “selling clothes in November 2019, and [it] sold out five times between November 2019 and February 2020. I called Earl and asked him to go to [with me] the PGA [trade] show and see what the rest of the [golf] world says about it. I started the brand because I wanted to afford myself a way to play the sport.”
The collaboration with the Jordan Brand on an Air Jordan Retro IV would solidify the Eastside Golf name in the golf world, as well as entering the sneaker game. “Our brand means something. It means that Jordan [Brand] actually believes in golf. Even [speaking] with Michael Jordan, and him believing in Eastside [Golf]. That’s really important and shows we’re going down the right path. That golf is itching for a new vision of how it’s supposed to look, and how it is going to look moving forward. There is a lane for this.”
Eastside Golf x Air Jordan Retro IV golf shoes come in the Eastside Golf colorway in navy blue and gold. The tongue bears the Player Logo designed by Ajanaku, stitched, and embroidered. The shoe’s classic cement detailing has navy blue specs which complement the Eastside logo design, and white upper. On the sole of the shoe is the custom artwork “Be You” by Ajanaku.
As all of the traditional aspects of golf remain, the energy and vibrancy of the sport are taking on younger audiences, trading polo shirts and tan khakis for hoodies and denim, and white golf cleats for fresh J’s, literally. “Over the years, golf was supposed to look a certain way. We come with a whole different [swag]. We keep our same [street] style, and they have to accept it. It shows culture, and it shows that [now] we have a shoe, this [is] part of the culture that people need to take advantage of in this game. These things go into what makes Eastside Golf. And important for all Black folks and people of color. Use it as a tool!”
Ajanaku created these artworks that are staples of the Eastside Golf brand promoting the Black presence in golf. “With this design, and with Eastside Golf, I hope to show future generations the value in being your true authentic self,” Ajanaku states. He continues, “The Eastside Golf Player Logo, and ‘Be You’ artwork, is a portrayal of who I am and what I feel like as a Black man on the golf course.”
The Eastside Golf Air Jordan IV shoes launch with a raffle beginning Friday, July 23. The only place you’ll be able to enter the raffle will be through the Eastside Golf website. Raffle winners will have their chance to purchase the shoes on August 7. Eastside Golf also has an apparel capsule that features crewnecks and polo shirts launching alongside the Air Jordan Retro IV shoe.