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Bogey Boys: How Macklemore Created a Breakthrough Golf Brand

Fueled by his own passion for the sport in recent years and golf’s surge in popularity during the pandemic, the Grammy-winning rapper’s new clothing line blends together vintage styling and elevated fabrics for the modern golfer. 

When Macklemore picked up the game of golf just a few years ago, he was familiar enough to know there’s a certain look and etiquette that’s long been a staple of the sport, for better or for worse. 

So, he went shopping for some new gear for the course. 

“I realized that golf clothes were trash about a week after I started playing,” Ben Haggerty says matter-of-factly. 

As someone that’s shown a passion for streetwear and sneakers ever since he hit the scene in 2012 with his breakout hit “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore wanted to take matters into his own hands.

He launched his golf-inspired clothing brand Bogey Boys in 2021, after spending the first year of the pandemic both working on his game on the links and concepting, crafting, and developing the apparel line. 

It was during that span that the sport – outdoors and convenient during a socially distant climate – saw some of its biggest growth since the late ‘90s when Tiger Woods first exploded. A then-record 3 million people in the US played golf at a course for the first time in 2020, only to be followed by a new record of 3.2 million more people in 2021, according to the National Golf Foundation. 

With so many players new to golf, there’s also been a noticeable shift in the style of the game, and an emergence of new brands looking to tap into that intersection of sport and style that the game has often been missing in recent decades.

While cruising in his black Mercedes Maybach along 1st Avenue toward Climate Pledge Arena in his hometown of Seattle last month, the prideful Emerald City native and massive sports fan would soon be seated courtside for the NBA’s first exhibition game in Seattle since 2018. As he’s eternally hopeful for an eventual revival of his beloved Seattle SuperSonics, in the meantime, he’s also become a part owner in both the Seattle Sounders MLS and Seattle Kraken NHL franchises. 

Just before taking in the NBA action, draped in the subtle green Bogey Boys “classic script jacket” and matching “best pants,” Macklemore recounted the starting points of his new lifestyle brand to Boardroom, the impact that golf has already had on him in a short span, and how the game’s growth can ultimately lead to a more inclusive community of golfers. 

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Nick DePaula: When did you realize this was a venture that you wanted to kick off?

Macklemore: I went into a store – I will not name the store – and it was khakis, navy shirts, more khakis, and more navy shirts. It was boring. I’ve always been inspired by old-school golf fashion, the plaids and the tartans, and people like Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, and Payne Stewart. The OGs from the ’70s and ’80s. 

Somewhere along the line, golf clothing got lost in techwear, corporate sponsorships, and just trying to look like everybody else. So we created Bogey Boys. We spent about a year and a half designing it, brainstorming it, manufacturing, sampling, coming up with the story and concept. And then we launched in February of 2021. 

NDP: How did you go from thinking the clothes were trash, to actually making it a reality, building a team and figuring out the business angle and structure?

Macklemore: Design has always been a big part of my life. From album artwork to music videos to fonts to anything creative, I have a hand in designing it. Merch was also a big part of it. I knew I always wanted to do something separate from just Macklemore merch but didn’t have the avenue. 

When I started to play golf, I was like, “Oh, this is perfect.” I’d always been inspired by this type of clothing and there’s a lane for it and there’s a niche. Not a lot of people are really filling this space right now.

A look at the full second collection from Bogey Boys.

NDP: Once you started to get into that process, what were you learning about how other golf companies were approaching the market and what the golf consumer was looking for?

Macklemore: I’m constantly learning on a daily basis about what people resonate with. I put up a picture of me in our Caddyshack Cardigan, and it was one of those where I was like, “I don’t think anyone is going to buy this. This is a very specific look.” It’s probably the most engaged-with photo on Bogey Boys’ Instagram. 

Whether or not that translates to sales, we’ll see, but I have a feeling that it will. I would’ve never picked that. And now it’s like, “Oh, a fuckin’ plain green polo didn’t hit that I thought would.” Or, what I really like, might not be what the masses like. We’re constantly studying and refining our sample size, who is a consumer, and who is a fan of the brand. 

There’s so much fast fashion today, and right now, a lot of people are jumping on the golf bandwagon. I just saw Zara Golf. It was three models and obviously, no one golfed. [laughs] It looked like they just straight bit NOCTA and they’re thinking, “There’s a bag in this.”

One of the things that I think separates Bogey Boys, outside of the design, the fabrics, and our homegrown Seattle story is that we love the game. This is all I want to do. Now when I go on tour, I’m looking forward to hitting golf courses just as much as I am to getting on stage. There’s just something about this game that is very addictive. I completely got bit by the bug.

NDP: How would you describe your game? I have around a 40-yard slice, pretty shaky chipping – but solid putting, though. [laughs]

Macklemore: My game is all over the place. My game can be all of that. One day I can be hitting a draw. The next day I can be hitting a slice. I think that I figured out chipping, I’m about to go to the Korn Ferry Tour, and then I shank the ball. I feel confident out of the bunker, and then I don’t know how to get out. I’m constantly learning and forgetting, and repeating.

NDP: What elements of golf are the learning lessons that you’re able to apply to other things in your life?

Macklemore: The biggest thing to me is acceptance. Accepting that some days it’s there, and some days it’s not. It’s the pure reflection of life, in that you go out and you’re hoping for a certain score or to break 80 or 90, and the minute that you think you have it figured out, life proves that you have no idea. The game doesn’t owe you shit. God doesn’t owe you shit. 

You want to go out there and have a good time, regardless of how it turns out. It’s a complete reflection of how I try and approach music, or parenting, and just accepting that things are the way they are. It might not be how I wanted it to go, but here we are. The life metaphor is constant. 

The Las Vegas capsule collection from Bogey Boys.

NDP: Something that I thought was super interesting is you’re starting out from the perspective that you didn’t find golf clothes to be fresh. How much of the brand is also centered on making clothes that someone not into golf will also want to rock in their everyday lives?

Macklemore: The brand is just as much a lifestyle brand as it is a golf brand. I wanted to do something where you didn’t have to play golf to rock Bogey Boys. It’s much bigger than that. It’s called Bogey Boys, but it’s also unisex clothing. I didn’t want to alienate anybody. 

It’s a game that already has enough barriers up, and I want to make it as inclusive as possible. It should be a place where people feel like they can be themselves, stand out, be original, and look better than everyone else on the golf course. Even if they’re playing trash. 

NDP: What was the moment or highlight that sticks out to you, where you realized, “Ok, this is really working?”

Macklemore: We had a six-page spread in Golf Digest. The fact that we were in Year 1, with a six-page spread in Golf Digest, that was definitely a “pinch yourself” and surreal moment. Like, “Damn dude, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday and I know I need to go to bed, but I’m designing.” And now this is where it’s going to be [featured]. I wouldn’t have believed it. One of the things that we have seen is that the golf world is ready for a change. 

I wasn’t met with, “Hell no, what do you think you’re doing? This is sacred space.” Everyone has been super cool. Particularly, anyone that is a mom & pop type of company, has been super cool. All of the pros and influencers have been great. The PGA Tour has been super welcoming. Everyone has been genuinely pumped that I’m into the game and that I’m a participant on the business side as well. 

NDP: In the last year, there’s really been this intersection of streetwear and golf, and more brands starting to make their mark. What’s it like to hear Bogey Boys mentioned in that tier as one of the brands that have helped to push that shift?

Macklemore: I think it’s dope. We got in at the right time. It’s interesting, cause golf and streetwear are definitely blending. It’s a lot like music, where you go, “What genre is this?” It’s almost like compartmentalizing and putting things in boxes hurts the overall picture. It’s great that we got in when we did, and I think that people can sense what’s genuine and what’s not. They can feel when there’s a real and authentic story behind a brand, and they can feel when a company is just trying to leech onto something. 

I’m grateful that we’re in the position that we are, and it’s going to be great to see what happens. I’m excited about what happens in the next year and I’m excited to see what happens in the next five years. I think the growth for Bogey Boys, is the sky is the limit at this point. 

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About The Author
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula covers the footwear industry and endorsement deals surrounding the sporting landscape, with an emphasis on athlete and executive interviews. The Sacramento, California, native has been based in Portland, Oregon, for the last decade, a main hub of sneaker company headquarters. He’ll often argue that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated movie, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have made the NBA Finals.