[Fox Business] NFL coach turns love for golf into mission for inclusion with clothing brand: ‘Golf is for everyone’

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Matt Daniels was introduced to golf at a young age, but his first true love was football.

Daniels’ grandfather was a Pro-Am golfer, but because he was Black, he was shunned from numerous golf courses during the 1950s and 1960s while living in the South.

Then, and still, a predominantly White sport, it was hard for Daniels to love the game of golf growing up, despite being around it with his grandfather constantly.

However, Daniels said, “I didn’t see Terrell Owens or Randy Moss swing a golf club when I was growing up.”

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Daniels was fully fledged into his football playing days when Tiger Woods was on the map, but even still, “that’s only one person.” The people who looked like him played football and basketball. “It was the Michael Jordan era, the Barry Sanders era, the Terrell Davises,” he said.

However, after his playing career, and after his grandfather died in 2012, Daniels decided to go back to his roots – way back – and pick up some golf clubs.

“Once I picked up the sticks, I realized this is an unbelievable feeling, the competitive spirit it brings out of you, because this is a sport that’s for everyone, and you can play forever regardless of age or ethnicity, the handicaps that you might have, there are ways to be able to play the sport. It’s always an even playing field at the end of the day,” Daniels, now the special teams coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, told Fox Business in a recent interview.

Now, Daniels has turned his newfound love for golf into a business venture where he is trying to make up for tons of lost time, both for himself personally and those who came long before him. He recently founded “Blackballed Golf,” a golf clothing brand that “[strives] to promote a diverse and inclusive golf lifestyle while merging performance-driven apparel with fashion-forward trends,” alongside Jordan Griffin.

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“The ‘traditional’ golf scene is a thing of the past as a new generation of golfers fall in love with the game. Throughout the history of golf, there has been an exclusive country club vibe that has discouraged the people who do not fit the mold to shy away from playing the sport,” the brand’s website states.

“Blackballed Golf strives to break down those barriers and celebrate our differences. We believe that golf is for everyone.”

Blackballed is backed by global e-commerce company Shopify.

“Direct-to-consumer brands are popping up and changing what commerce looks like for independent golf brands,” said Jessica Williams, Shopify’s global brand marketing and partnerships director. “Traditionally, big, legacy brands were the only ones available for golfers to choose from. Now, Shopify has made it possible for a new generation of golfers to have access to incredible lifestyle businesses that represent younger and more diverse golfers.”

So much of the feeling included in golf, though, has to do with attire, Daniels said, and the clothes he makes are a way to include more people who look like him.

“At the end of the day, what we bring from a clothing standpoint is what sets us apart, in terms of being able to provide people with luxurious, top-notch premium fabrics, but also something to wear when you don’t feel like you’re not yourself, because you have to put on this collared shirt and these khaki shorts…” Daniels added. “All things where you feel good about going out there, and you feel like this represents who I am rather than feeling like I got to dress a certain way where I don’t feel comfortable and what I’m wearing.”

Daniels said golf is simply much cooler to play now than even a decade ago because of the popular faces playing the game, no matter what race. He mentioned “The Match” that has featured Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

He has even gotten support from MLB legend C.C. Sabathia and made mention of Victor Cruz and Saquon Barkley constantly posting about playing.

“These guys getting involved in golf, but having an addiction to it. They truly love the game, publicize it, and showing that they to participate in the sport, and they are trying to push that this is something that can be for you too,” Daniels said.

“Golf has a funny way of pushing people away if you don’t quite fit the mold of what it should look like,” Daniels added. “Frat boy sport, elitist sport, however you want to put what the narrative truly is, everyone is well aware of what the past of the sport truly looks like, and there’s still a lot of work to do.”

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