Over the last several years, Black athletes and sports fans have proven that our interests lie far beyond the basketball court or football field alone. From the reign of Queen Serena Williams in the world of tennis to NASCAR champion Bubba Wallace to golf GOAT Tiger Woods, we dominate every arena, even those not historically considered as being “Black” sports. But if you’re not Williams, or Wallace, or Woods, how do you find camaraderie in the game you love? For former Under Armour planning exec Tari Cash, golf has always been her sport of choice. But according to a recent Sports Illustrated interview, her previous workspaces, she found that even though her white, male colleagues showed a bit more interest in her socially after mentioning her affinity for the game, she was still kept at arm’s length while on the green. Recognizing that this also kept her on the outside of a few critical conversations on the range, Cash had a lightbulb moment.
“You know how when you don’t get something you want it provides so much more clarity?” she asks SI reporters. “As soon as that happened, it demonstrated to me how important this game is for building relationships. I knew instantly that wasn’t going to be a job where I’d be successful.”
After ten years on the job, Cash stepped down from her role at Under Armour to build out a dream she’d held onto for years. An indoor golf spot. Upon researching similar spaces to her vision in Asian cities where players spray golf balls onto VR projector screens that mirror real golf courses, the former exec was ready to turn her dream into reality.
In 2018, Cash conceptualized the first model for CitySwing, a pop up experience in the heart of D.C. After the success of the pop up, the entrepreneur shopped around for a permanent home for her new business. She settled into a studio space downtown and accessible to the Metro, giving more Black women the opportunity to play that otherwise might not. As Cash recalled the days where she wanted in on the conversations taking place on the golf course among her peers, she saw CitySwing – which also provides instruction – as a way to give other Black women the access she was once denied, in hopes of giving them a leg up the corporate ladder.
“I spent the first half of my career thinking if I put my head down and did my work really well, that that was all it was going to take for me to succeed,” Cash says. “I learned the hard way that that’s not true. You can be an incredible performer, but you still need people advocating for you. You need people telling you when this deal or that deal is gonna happen. That only happens through relationships.”
While CitySwing is ultimately a success, it was not without its struggles. The facility had to temporarily close when the pandemic hit. But this setback only set the stage for a community come up. The next phase of the business became a full scale partnership with the Boys and Girls Club where golf camps are offered to the city’s youth.
Cash says that the initiative makes her feel inspired, once again.
“It just proves to me that we’re not [not] playing golf because we don’t like the game,” says Cash, referring to people of color. “We’re not playing [because] the industry hasn’t invited us in. We haven’t had an easily accessible, affordable way into the game. When you put these golf clubs in these young people’s hands who have never been thinking about golf, they love it. They’re naturals. We just need to keep doing more.”