The DeKalb Difference Blog

Partnering with NBA, Nike and others, Ajanaku builds Eastside Golf into national brand

Ajanaku’s Eastside Golf promotes Black culture with iconic golf attire

DeKalb County native Olajuwon Ajanaku has channeled his love of his favorite sport — golf — into Eastside Golf, a clothing and apparel company named after the East Atlanta community where he grew up.

Ajanaku, also is using the revenue he gets from Eastside Golf to help fund his dreams of becoming a Black pro golfer. He and co-founder Earl Cooper were teammates on Morehouse College’s 2010 squad that won the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship and graduated in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Following college, Ajanaku started a career in finance and worked for a tractor-trailer company in Detroit, and Cooper became a PGA professional, being named to Golf Digest magazine’s list of best young teachers in 2016. After previously struggling to find sponsors or investors from businesses and individuals to help fund his pro golf dreams, Ajanaku took matters into his own hands by co-founding Eastside Golf in 2019. Its name also comes from the fact that it was founded while he was living in East Detroit.

He started by creating a logo of a Black man swinging a golf club while wearing white shoes, a baseball cap, jeans, a sweatshirt and a gold chain around his neck that is moving in the opposite direction of the club. At first, Ajanaku planned to put the logo on a polo shirt and his golf bag, but Cooper convinced him to iron it on a T-shirt.

“From there, I went to downtown Detroit and got stopped 100, 120 times in, like, two to three hours,” Ajanaku said of the reaction he got from people while wearing the T-shirt. “It was just like, ‘Who are you? What’s that logo? Where can I get it? So, I’ve got something. I still don’t know what it is. Earl just said, ‘Run with it.’ So, I ended up making about eight or nine SKUs [stock-keeping units], T-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, lapels, umbrellas, and the first 3,000 orders I shipped out from my apartment myself in Detroit.

“All in all, I was tired of being told no. If I want to pursue my dream of pro golf, why not be my own sponsor? Why not take the entrepreneurial route and sponsor myself? So that’s why I created the brand.”

Pro Golf Dreams

This year, Ajanaku plans to play in up to three tournaments on the Advocates Professional Golf Association (APGA) Tour, a minor league tour whose mission is to bring greater diversity to the game of golf. The APGA Tour includes up to 18 tournaments a year with more than $800,000 in prize money. Ajanaku said he hopes to play a full schedule of events in 2025.

Growing up in DeKalb, Ajanaku attended W.D. Mohammed and Stone Mountain high schools before graduating from Cedar Grove High. During his middle and high school years, he spent hours playing on the public golf courses near those schools.

“That’s where I met a lot of guys who had an influence on me as a man,” Ajanaku said. “I’ve always wanted to give this game to so many people because of what it has to offer, personally. ”Eastside Golf took off even more in early 2020, when Ajanaku and Cooper presented their products at PGA Show, the pro golf tour’s annual trade show.

Since then, the company has garnered a reputation as a national leader in the golf apparel industry through partnerships with national sports leagues and brands including MLB, the NBA, the PGA Tour, Mercedes-Benz, Nike and BMW. In the process, Eastside Golf’s Instagram handle (eastsidegolf) has attracted 155,000 followers, and its Twitter/X feed (@EastsideGolf) has nearly 7,000 followers.

Eastside Golf also has received national attention by being the subject of “Grails: When Sneakers Change the Game,” a six-episode docuseries that premiered on Hulu in 2022.

The founders also were named to Black Enterprises’ 40 Under 40 list.

Partnerships Grow Brand

Its partnership with Nike includes at least two exclusive sets of Air Jordan sneakers featuring the Eastside Golf logo, and its NBA partnership is a capsule collection of clothes called “Playing Golf After This” that includes a special T-shirt featuring seven team logos to herald the official end of the pro basketball season.

In a March 6 news release, the PGA Tour announced a partnership with Eastside Golf “to drive grassroots community engagement and outreach to new golf players and fans of the game” through Eastside’s Community Golf Days.

The Golf Days, planned for four cities across the  nation and timed to coincide with the tour’s key FedEx Cup events, are “focused on diversifying the sport and bringing fans of the brand together at local courses to experience the fun of golf without the financial barriers commonly found in the game,” according to the release. One of the stops is in DeKalb at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

Ajanaku and Cooper have used Eastside Golf to affect change for social justice, including the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ajanaku, who lives in Buckhead, said he plans to sell Eastside Golf products at some stores and at least one golf course in DeKalb, plus other businesses in Buckhead, starting later this year. He said the brand is not just for people who play golf.

“The thing I would say most people kind of get weary of when they see our brand is the more they’ll see the logo, [they’ll say], ‘Damn, I don’t play golf, so I can’t wear that,’” he said. “It’s like, well, I just use the company Ralph Lauren [as an example]. You don’t play polo but you wear Polo [apparel] almost every day, whether it’s a T-shirt, vest, polo, whatever it is, jeans, all the way down. This is more of a lifestyle play.

“Even though you can still wear these clothes on and off the golf course, I want to be a brand that … is a trend at the end of the day. Hopefully, when you see this logo, [you say], ‘Damn, that’s a logo of a diverse man playing golf, and he has a chain going one way, jeans, sweatshirt, and he’s literally being himself. You literally have to be yourself to be something like this. Hopefully, that symbolizes for everybody [that] being yourself, it’s power in that.”

For more information on Eastside Golf, visit

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