Sports have the incredible ability to bring individuals of all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels together. However, it's not as simple to expose people to various athletics. One woman is looking to change that narrative, and she's using golf as a means to introduce more women and minorities to the sport.
Tari Cash is the founder of City Swing, a Washington, D.C.-based virtual golf facility that allows individuals of all experience levels to put their skills to the test. Cash's motivation for starting the brand catapulted following an episode in April 2018. According to CNN, police were called on five Black women for allegedly playing golf too slowly at a semi-private course in Pennsylvania they'd recently joined.
Cash has capitalized off the early success with City Swing Foundation, a nonprofit that provides access, free lessons and equipment to underrepresented and unserved communities in the nation's capital.
The former Under Armour exec spoke with Yahoo Sports about City Swing's birth, 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?
Tari Cash: "We started the company in 2018 and I think the years leading up to its inception is when it really started to click how much I was using golf as a strategic tool to create relationships with executives at the companies I worked with. They were seeing me differently after we played golf together or spoke about our our shared love for golf. At the same time, indoor golf and golf simulation was becoming a trend. It was very popular in Asia and was slowly making its way to the United States, but hadn't really jumped off.
"So, the intersection of me understanding that this was an important tool for business reasons and the fact that there was not an indoor golf simulator in D.C., those were really the key points that gave me the confidence to say, 'Let's go do this.' We started with a popup in 2018 just to see if it made sense. Thankfully, it really resonated with the local community and once we got validation, I thought, 'Let's try to create a company.' "
YS: Why do you think golf was the solution to connecting with executives compared to other method you tried in the past?
TC: "Yeah. I love that question. When golfing, you're spending four to five hours with these people. You're put into a foursome and the majority of athletic activity is a very small fraction of the total round. Most of the time you're riding in a cart or you're walking to your ball, so you're talking about family, vacations, business, etc. And that's how quality relationships are built when not in a conference room or a dinner where you're maybe getting 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 pivot to your foundation. Is that something that you knew you wanted to establish when you first started City Swing?
TC: "Yeah, I did. City Swing was born in 2018 and the foundation two years later. But we were always a social impact company from the very beginning. My mission has always been to create spaces where women and people of color feel really 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 golfing experience and hopefully give them the tools needed to truly 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 a misconception that people normally have when you first interact with them about their golfing experience and how is City Swing working to eliminate those misconceptions?
TC: "I think the biggest misconception is that you need to be good at golf to start playing. So many people, particularly women, find they are actually ready to play on the course for a long time before they actually begin. That really only comes with time and practice. Particularly for women, we tend to wait, I think, a little longer than necessary to learn the game.
"At City Swing, we're going to teach you the terminology, how to use the equipment and, of course, the etiquette. There are techniques to golf that makes playing seamless. Once you nail those down, the focus can be on fostering healthy relationships. It's just about going at your own pace. We all remember the first time we learned to do anything, right?
"Women of color are an underrepresented group in general, and they haven't been playing golf because they haven't been invited into the game. 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 other intentions you want to take with not only City Swing, but also the foundation?
TC: "City Swing has three components to it. We've got our brick-and-mortar, the golf truck and the foundation. The three of those really work together to make golf more accessible and welcoming. The truck and the studios are huge opportunities for us to scale and grow the foundation as well. What we'll do is focus on mobilizing the golf truck for both events and our foundation. Eventually we'll open more studios nationwide and overseas. The goal is to be a global brand, and I believe we'll get there in due time."