What does a Grammy-winning and platinum-selling artist do during a pandemic when they can’t tour with their music? For Seattle rapper Macklemore, it was to play golf.
The 2014 Best Rap Album went from fan of the game to somebody who played it himself several times a week over the last three years. (Macklemore is currently an 11 handicap and can be regularly spotted at celebrity tournaments.) A longtime Seattle sports fan who grew up playing baseball (as a third baseman, his coaches compared him to Brooks Robinson) and catching Sonics and Seahawks games, Macklemore has since combined his love of golf with his other passion: Creating. The rapper recently launched his own golf clothing line (Bogey Boys), and in September opened a brick-and-mortar location in Seattle, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood he grew up in.
After the opening, Macklemore caught up with SI/Golf to discuss meeting his favorite athletes, his addiction to golf, his commitment to designs, and more.
Do you still get excited when you get to meet athletes that you grew up watching or currently watch?
If I'm being honest, there's certain people for sure, like if I was to meet Tiger Woods. I've met a lot of the people that I idolized as a kid, or even as an adult so I don't know if I exactly fan out. But there's definitely a small handful of people that I would probably be pretty starstruck if I crossed paths with. You know, I got an opportunity to work with Jordan some years back and got to meet Michael Jordan and watch the basketball game with him. And that was definitely one of those moments where I'm like, What in the f--- do I say to Michael Jordan?
That sounds like way too much pressure. What did you say to him? What did you guys talk about?
I mean, we watched the whole game together, sitting next to each other for like, two plus hours. And the conversation went all over the place. I wish I was playing golf at the time because I'm sure we would’ve just wanted to talk about golf. But him and Carmelo were definitely fixated on high school basketball, which I knew very little about on a national level. So I was playing in whenever I could.
When did you realize golf was such a big passion for you?
I have an addictive personality, I go hard and have a hard time balancing anything once I my mind wrapped around it. It happened quickly with golf. There was that fascination with the first five iron that I hit well, and then I wanted that feeling again. And then it transferred into like, man, if I could, I would go golfing every single day.
I went to a driving range once and had a terrible time. It was awful, I kept swinging the club like a baseball bat. How frustrating were those early days you played and what made the sport appealing to you?
That makes complete sense. It's a game of self hatred, with little tiny bits of love the golf gods give back to you. I played enough par-3 golf as a teenager, like early on when Tiger started to pop off. I played enough times in one summer where I kind of had the mechanics of it. I had those general mechanics that enabled me to every 15 shots, hit a decent one. And once you get one, once you hit one ball pure, a dopamine hit goes off in your brain. It keeps you coming back. I don't know what it is. It feels very much like a drug. Golf is weird in that way. You hit the ball right once and you want that feeling again.
By playing golf and designing clothes, are you ever worried about your authenticity being questioned moving into a space other than music?
In fact, it's honestly like the first time that I've ever really even thought about it. Because it's authentic. I think what a lot of people do is like they're like, okay, now I have a platform and such and such brand is reaching out saying that they'll give me X amount of equity or a percentage if I use my likeness on a t-shirt or a hoodie or this sports drink or whatever it is, and they have no stake in the creativity. It's literally just a transactional endorsement with no heart behind it.
I'm spending five days a week until two o'clock in the morning to create designs or I'm down in Los Angeles going through fabrics and feeling the tactile differences between this wool-cotton blend and this other wool-cotton blend. I feel like all of these small things create authenticity, and it's a passion. It's not something that I'm doing for the interest of money. If it's successful, great, but that has literally zero to do with why I wanted to get in the lane in the first place. I wanted to get into this lane because I went to a Dick's Sporting Goods and I'm like, these polos are trash, they should be better than this.
How much did growing up in Seattle, which has a unique fashion scene, influence the work you’re doing now?
I think that we bring our life's work with us when we go into a creative space. It’s difficult to be able to quantify my upbringing. Everything that I touch has my DNA. My favorite part is getting people outside of their own comfort zones realizing that they can get out of the khakis and the grayscale shirts that we're kind of subjected to as golf fans. I want to create things that are unique, I want to continue to push the envelope, and I want to inject my own style into it.
I think if I could be doing literally anything it would be designing clothes. How much fun do you have actually getting to build things from the ground up?
I absolutely love to do it. If anyone’s remodeled their house, all of the questions that go into like remodeling, that’s what it's like for every single piece of clothing. There's a lot of decisions to be made about each piece. Again, it's a labor of love. We launched this thing, and I had no idea who was going to buy this. And so I've been very pleasantly surprised.
What was it like to actually see your physical store open in city you grew up in?
I didn't know the impact that I would be left with. We worked so hard to make it happen and so many things fell into place and everyone busted their ass and to finally open see a line all the way wrapped around the block. People excited to go experience this new store in a neighborhood that I grew up in in a place that will be community. That to me is a dream, and I didn't even really know it was a dream.
People said opening up a brick and mortar store in the middle of the pandemic is a stupid idea financially. And I'm like, well, maybe it is. But I believe that what's more important than getting out of the red or more important than making a profit is creating a space in which people can come and enjoy the game, enjoy the pursuit of looking for treasures and digging through old s--- in the basement. And I think that we executed it really well.