“Grails: When Sneakers Change the Game” is a documentary about two Morehouse University alums, Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper, who have the vision to break barriers in the white-dominated sport of golf with their clothing and shoe brand: Eastside Golf. With big names such as DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Jayson Tatum, and Chris Paul appearing in this doc series, the audience gets to witness just how Eastside Golf went from being a small apparel brand to signing with the biggest shoe brands in the world: Air Jordan.
The six-episode documentary begins with Ajanaku, an East Atlanta-raised entrepreneur and member of Morehouse’s 2010 National tournament-winning golf team, who was fueled by his failure to become a professional golfer and his need to diversify the dullness of standard golfing attire, creates the Eastside Golf logo of a Black man in a fitted cap and gold chain, swinging a golf club. Alongside his former Morehouse golf teammate, Cooper (who has a background in business), the two create clothing adorned with the Eastside Golf logo. Together, with Ajanaku as the creative influence and Cooper as a marketing and business genius, the duo work to shift golf attire from plain polos to something with a lot more flair.
Ajanaku and Cooper’s big break hit when famed basketball player, Chris Paul arrived at one of his games dripped head-to-toe in Eastside Golf apparel in 2020. Paul’s public support of the Eastside Gold led many well-known celebrities and sneakerheads like DJ Khaled and Fat Joe to also support the then small business. Paul went on to say “When I seen the logo from Eastside (Golf), I seen someone who looked like me.” Especially when it comes to a white-dominated sport such as golf, many Black and Brown kids who dream of going pro need inspiration like Eastside Golf to recognize that it’s not impossible to become a successful professional golfer.
Paul and his brother CJ were able to get Ajanaku and Cooper in contact with now former Vice President of Jordan Footwear, Gentry Humphrey, and the first ever Jordan golf sneaker collaboration was born. Beginning with The Eastside Golf X Air Jordan 4, which sold out in less than 48 hours, Jordan renewed their partnership with Eastside Golf with the “Out of the Mud” collection which brought three new golf shoes inspired by Ajanaku’s struggles to be a successful golfer during his youth. With the creation of Jordan X Eastside Golf apparel, Ajanaku and Cooper are just getting started on their journey to change the all-around boring golf apparel and uniforms common to country clubs and golf courses all across the world.
As well as changing fashion on the golf course for the better, Eastside Golf is also encouraging young Black and Brown golfers to be resilient in the face of discrimination, and that it is very possible to become a successful professional in a sport such as golf.
During the doc, Cooper dropped a gem that all BIPOC entrepreneurs should keep in mind. “If you have no one here to represent, it’s like the narrative is being controlled by someone else.”
“Grails: When Sneakers Change the Game” is now streaming on Hulu.
By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University