Eastside Golf, a frequent collaboration partner of Jordan Brand, has secured funding from EP Golf Ventures.
The lifestyle golf brand, founded in 2019 by former Morehouse College golf teammates Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper, announced Thursday that it has closed a seed round led by EP Golf Ventures. EP Golf Ventures is a strategic investment partnership between the PGA of America and Los Angeles-based venture capital investment firm Elysian Park Ventures.
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Eastside Golf confirmed with FN that it raised $3.4 million during the funding round.
“Earl and Olajuwon have done what no one has been able to do before: create a brand rooted in golf that resonates outside of the sport to bring in new audiences to the game,” Elysian Park Ventures and EP Golf Ventures managing partner Jay Adya said in a statement. “Not only are they masters at capturing the cultural zeitgeist, but they have also developed an innovative business which we believe has the capacity for immense growth.”
The move, according to Eastside Golf, will accelerate its growth as it continues to bring new product lines to the market.
“Our goal in creating Eastside Golf is to show people that you can be yourself and you don’t need to look a certain way to play the game,” Cooper, co-founder of Eastside Golf, said in a statement. “The future of the game exists outside of the golf industry. We’ve been able to tap into the culture to change the perception of the sport and grow the game for future generations. As a PGA of America Golf Professional, I’m especially honored to have the support of EP Golf Ventures as we enter into our next chapter.”
Ajanaku added, “The goal with Eastside Golf is to change how people around the world view the sport. Our logo is not what you’d expect from a traditional apparel line rooted in golf — a Black man wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and gold rope chain, swinging a club. And that’s the goal. We want to inspire confidence but also promote authenticity by showing that everyone can enjoy the game of golf, no matter who you are.”
Though the brand is young, Eastside Golf has quickly become a force in footwear and fashion in the past two years. It has been worn by people of note in the worlds of sports, music and more, including President Barack Obama, music mogul DJ Khaled and NBA star Jayson Tatum, among others. The brand has also entered into several partnerships and licensing deals that have bolstered its profile, including the NBA, MLB and Mercedes Benz.
From a footwear perspective, Eastside Golf delivered several footwear collaborations in 2022 and 2023 with Jordan Brand. The looks, which didn’t last long at retail upon release, included sneakers for both the casual sneaker fan as well as golf enthusiasts that are only available via resale today.
Because of this momentum, Eastside Golf stated it has experienced 600 percent year-over-year growth in the past two years.
Eastside Golf said that wholesale will be a priority in 2024 and that it will launch new product lines, including women’s apparel. Also, the brand confirmed it will host new golf events and double the amount of pop-ups in major markets, including its second-annual Eastside Golf Invitational during New York Fashion Week.
The brand will reveal its Spring Forward collection during the PGA Show — its first time showing at the industry event — which will take place Jan. 24-26 in Orlando, Fla.
Looking ahead, Eastside Golf confirmed its support of five Community Golf Days in Augusta, Ga., Jacksonville, Fla., Detroit, Mich., Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga. These days, the brand said in a statement, aim to “bring new players to their local courses to play, connect with others and experience the fun of the game at no cost.”
“Eastside Golf has developed a culturally relevant brand that is bringing a new audience into golf and helping to usher in a new future of the game,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said in a statement. “Earl and Olajuwon have a unique combination of creativity, deep roots in golf and an ability to organically tap into the cultural conversation. The PGA of America is deeply committed to investing in the evolution of the modern golf culture and inviting and cultivating a broader participation in golf. We look forward to supporting Eastside Golf’s continued efforts to make the game more welcoming to everyone who wants to play or be involved.”
About the Author
Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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