Entrepreneur Tari Cash wants to make golf more accessible to women and minorities with CitySwing DC
‘You don’t have to excel, you just have to be comfortable participating’
It was mid-July when entrepreneur Tari Cash opened CitySwing DC, a golf simulation experience in the heart of Washington, D.C. She’d noticed golf was missing in the city after she couldn’t easily get to a golf course to practice her swing because traffic was so bad.
Cash set out to do more research. She knew that it was the perfect time to move on from her corporate position to build her own business.
“One of my missions is to really get more women and people of color playing,” Cash said.
And she’s already thought out programming to bring in young minorities and women who normally wouldn’t play.
“Our space is very non-intimidating, fun, and is very intentional,” said Cash. “We were very thoughtful about creating a space that is inviting and inclusive to all people. Don’t let the intimidation factor hold you back, because you’re being held back from more than just the game of golf.”
As a black woman, Cash can identify with pulling up to a golf course and not feeling welcomed.
“We are polarizing when we step onto a golf course, but not all of them,” she said. “I think times are changing, but the reality is that for years women and African-Americans were excluded from country clubs. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that many of the most prestigious clubs in the country actually allowed African-Americans to be members, and there are still country clubs today that do not allow women to be members. So if you cannot participate because you are not allowed to be a member of the club, then why would you try to play and how do you participate in all of the other professional and personal benefits?”
As a first-time entrepreneur, Cash, 34, took a measured approach to CitySwing and created a prototype with one golf simulator and a lounge suite to ensure that it would be successful. She decided that providing clubs and equipment on-site would help people feel more comfortable participating. She plans to expand the full-scale product to six to eight simulators with enclosed suites.
“Think about it like a karaoke bar where you can bring a bunch of friends and hang out,” said Cash. “We will have a full bar, a restaurant. I like to describe it as an elevated bowling alley feel but with a very nice vibe and lounge area to complement it.”
CitySwing, a self-funded endeavor, is accessible on the city’s Metro system, and the cost to play varies depending on the amount of time spent. Customers are charged in intervals (15 minutes: $35; 30 minutes: $60; 60 minutes-plus: $110).
“We charge for time and not by person,” Cash said. “So a group of four will split the price.”
Cash’s dive into entrepreneurship was inspired by her golf partner Valencia McClure, who accepted a promotion as vice president of governmental and external affairs at Baltimore Gas and Electric.
“She really inspired that, because playing golf with her CEO on a regular basis had a positive impact on her career,” Cash said. “I was so struck by the correlation between golf because we are good golfers but we are not great golfers, and it dawned on me that you don’t actually have to excel at golf to reap the professional benefits, you just have to be willing to participate.”
Cash believes the saying “business is done on the golf course” rings true. She wants to create an environment that helps build and solidify business relationships.
“Business happens through relationships, and when you’re playing golf with someone for four to five hours, you really get to know a lot about the person,” said Cash. “You get to know them in a social and professional manner. It’s through those relationships that business happens. That’s why I feel like more women, people of color and everyone should play golf. You don’t have to excel, you just have to be comfortable participating.”
Cash remains optimistic about CitySwing and wants to see golfing for minority communities increase, especially in D.C., where the Wellesley, Massachusetts, native has lived since 2009.
“I think the golf industry is trying to change the culture, and I hope places like CitySwing, Top Golf and people like Troy Mullins continue breaking down those cultural barriers that do exist,” Cash said.