It started in a fairway bunker in Hawaii.
It was the day after Thanksgiving in 2018 and rap artist Macklemore was enjoying some down time with his family, manager Ben Secord and some of his closest friends. Located behind the house they were renting was a golf course.
After some incessant pestering, Macklemore was finally peer pressured into playing his first round of golf. While he didn’t share his friend’s enthusiasm, his plan was to get through the first nine holes before finding a viable excuse to leave. After hitting a house on his first shot, and hacking his way through a foreign Hawaiian course, he then found himself in a sand trap.
Frustrated and ready to leave, he grabbed a 5-iron. He swung and connected pure to the amazement of both himself and his friends. He remembers the crisp sound, the feeling and flight of that shot, because it relaxed him. All the frustration that had been building to that moment were left in that bunker and he finally began to enjoy himself. After they had finished, he couldn’t wait to play again.
That one shot spawned a fascination that has since grown into a new found passion for golf.
“It’s all I want to do,” he says. “There’s just this dopamine rush when you hit a good golf shot. The mental sharpness that it takes, the present nature of one golf shot at a time, not getting too far ahead of yourself, not thinking about the score, but just being present. It’s a complete, holistic, mental and physical experience that I just love. Golf has completely changed my life for the better.”
On a good week, he can get in four rounds. While the pandemic stunted the completion of a music project he had started to work on, it has allowed him a lot more tee times and quality time at home to spend with his wife and two daughters. The notorious gloomy weather of his hometown of Seattle doesn’t deter him either. The Golf Channel is often on in the background when he’s home, so even when he’s not playing, he is still consuming the sport.
Through touring, he’s gotten the opportunity to play on a lot of courses all over the world. Given how much he had grown to love his time on the green, he begin to find a huge component that frustrated him even more so than those first few swings back on that course in Hawaii. No matter where he played, he noticed that everyone dressed the same.
Growing up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, Macklemore’s first experiences in fashion were shopping at second-hand stores due in part to his admiration for old vintage golf fashion. From Chi Chi Rodriguez’s straw hats, Payne Stewart’s knickers tucked into his argyle socks, to Arnold Palmer’s cardigans; Macklemore always admired their personal style and found comfort in standing out.
How could he fully enjoy his newfound love if he’s wearing the same outfit as Joe Public on hole 9?
“I go into all these pro-shops and golf stores and it’s like all these guys have on the same polo and it’s so boring, basic and cookie cutter,” he said. “I couldn’t stand out if I tried to.”
He knew that there had to be golfers out there that felt the same as he did. In seeing that void for individuality, Macklemore wondered if he put his time, resources, and creative energy fully into the design process, could he produce top-quality apparel that not only made him feel completely comfortable on the green, but that he could also wear casually away from it?
The concept of Bogey Boys was born.
After a year and a half of sampling, designing, poring over all the small details such as the stitching of the embroidery, down to the crop of the pants, Season One of the Bogey Boys golf apparel and lifestyle brand released last week exclusively at bogeyboys.com.
Given the general stigma of golf being a rich, old white man’s sport, Macklemore braced for some awkward stares and snide comments on the courses when he began to wear his early testing samples of the apparel. What he received instead was several inquisitive conversations and complimentary remarks about his new threads, which let him know that there was a lot of room for growth in the game from both a stylistic and inclusion standpoint.
He’s hoping that what he’s doing with Bogey Boys helps to further bring new energy and more diverse participants to golf.
“Golf dates back to an era of this long lineage of this exclusive boys club,” Macklemore says. “That’s not what this game is about. This game is about camaraderie, getting outside, spending hours with your friends or family, having fun, and getting outside of that box that this game has been stuck in. It shouldn’t be such a stuffy sport.
“We hope to use this platform to open the floodgates, to make sure it’s accessible to all people. Obviously, it’s a pricey sport but there are ways around that,” he continued. “There are great local municipal courses throughout the country, and I think that’s something Bogey Boys is going to be focused on in the months and years to come — how can we as a brand get more people involved, get more youth involved, and help assure that whoever wants to play this sport has the access to do so?”
While Season One is already proving to be an early success with several items selling out quickly and garnering positive feedback, Macklemore is proud and says he’s even happier with how Season Two is coming along and is anxiously looking ahead to what’s in store for Season Three. He would love to work with an up and coming golfer on the Korn Ferry Tour or someone not quite yet established on the PGA Tour that aligns with his vision for Bogey Boys. But for now, he’s enjoying making cool clothes that he also loves to wear.
When he talks about golf and all of his creative ideas to help continue to grow the sport, it’s easy to forget that he has only played the game for a couple of years. Macklemore considers it surreal and a little bit stupid that he’s already competing in PGA events. No matter his score, the calm and joy that the game brings him replaces any nerves he has about having his shots broadcasted live on T.V. to millions.
It’s that unwavering passion in why he feels this lifestyle brand will resonate beyond the club houses and continue to help the sport reach new audiences.
“This is something that’s not just a flash in the pan moment for me,” Macklemore says. “It’s not just let me get in for a year or two, and it’s definitely not driven by money. It’s driven by pure love for this game and where we can take it stylistically and that’s what Bogey Boys is going to do.”