Golf courses are one of the few pastimes open during the pandemic, which is a silver lining for Houston White’s seven-piece sportswear capsule collection, “Coming to America.” (Yes, part of the inspiration for the name is Eddie Murphy’s 1988 film.) White, a North Minneapolis fixture and founder of HWMR barber shop, collaborated with Ivory Coast designer Manou Effi to bring black culture to affluent sports like golf and tennis.
While White plays both golf and tennis, golf was his first love. “Even if you don’t play [golf] well, if you look good, then you’re a part of it,” White says. “You feel like someone, someone special.”
White says he was pretty solitary in his late teens, spending his time scouring Blockbuster for classic movies like The Godfather. Golf attracted him because of its style and its lifelong accessibility; the then-untarnished Tiger Woods hadn’t hurt, either. He played a little at age 16 on the North High School team in Minneapolis, took a pause at 18 to get his barber’s license, and then rekindled his passion for it at 19. “I remembered I wanted to play it, and I was doing so many things that were out of bounds, I just added golf to it,” he says.
When he was on his high school team, White played city courses like Theodore Wirth and Hiawatha, where he would experience some of the Twin Cities’ “rich black golfing culture.” However, the atmosphere would change when the players would go to suburbs. “We were an anomaly,” White says. “[Everybody] was kind of like, ‘Huh?’ So it wasn’t super welcoming. It was a weird place to be.”
With bright yellows, purples, and African prints, “Coming to America” is for everyone who wants to be a part of the lifetime sport that has yet to shed its reputation for racial gaps. According to The New York Times, in 2019, three of 250 active golfers on the PGA tour were black (and four of approximately 220 in the LPGA. As for tennis, the Williams sisters have helped pave the way for black women in tennis as The New Yorker and many others have noted, although those same writers are waiting for an undisputed men’s icon.
“The misnomer [is] that affluent sport is not for black people,” White says in a video with Effi, “and I don’t agree. And it was a big issue for me personally that there were no clothes, no culturally relevant golf clothes. How could we do something different?”
“Something different, that is your first words. You always want to do something different,” Effi laughs in her reply. “And yeah, it’s something different. Wearing golf clothes with an African design and accents is very different. Even here [in Africa], we don’t have it.” With big plans for his Houston White brand (including a marketplace spot in the Dayton’s Project) and unwavering love for North Minneapolis, or as he calls it, Camdentown, that sounds about par for the course for White.
Book Your Tee Time
Don your golf gear and head to one of White’s favorite courses. While each is taking precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy, they’re more than ready to get you warming up your swing.
Chaska Town Course, Chaska: With four tee colors, the yardage of this 18-hole course ranges from 4,853 to 6,817. Rolling hills, native grasses, and immaculately kept fairways and greens await. For a short game focus or a laidback beginner experience, check out the Chaska Par 30 by golf architect Robert Trent Jones II, which features water hazards on five holes, 15 sand bunkers, and bentgrass greens.
Edinburgh USA, Brooklyn Park: Also designed by Jones, this 18-hole championship course opened in 1987 and has been host to seven LPGA Tour events, the USGA Public Links Championship, and more. A renovation in 2014 included new bunkers, improved fairway and chipping areas, and three new greens. Get even more hyped for your game with a flyover of each hole.
Francis A. Gross Golf Club, Minneapolis: Also known as Gross National, this golf course is a local favorite for pleasant games among gentle hills. The 71-par course is smartly laid out across almost 150 acres, and while golf carts are available, many golfers choose to stretch their legs.
The Legends, Prior Lake: Named the national golf course of the year in 2007 by the National Golf Course Owners Association, this beautiful 18-hole championship course is nestled just south of the Twin Cities. Across its marshy and wooded areas, the course highlights nature with plenty of places for native plants and wildlife to reside, a 30-acre lake, ponds, wetlands, and creeks. Although the longest hole is No. 16 at 621 yards, each hole has five sets of tees.
Theodore Wirth Golf Club, Minneapolis: The land has been home to a golf course since 1916, but the 72-par Theodore Wirth Golf Club we know and love today truly began in 1983. In 2017, the course went through a renovation that included elevating some greens and bunkers, creating a new 360-yard par four as the 18th hole, and evolving the course style to echo the 1920s while still showcasing the area’s nature and skyline views.
Troy Burne Golf Club, Hudson: This course has been named one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Course in Golf Digest from 2017 to 2020. Navigate your golf ball over 420 acres of fairways, greens, water, and bunkers (120, to be exact) in the St. Croix Valley hills. The 18-hole course was designed to be fun and challenge all abilities by PGA player Tom Lehman and the Hurdzan-Fry architecture firm.