On Juneteenth, the Change the Game Sports series partnered with apparel brand TravisMathew to host a celebrity golf event at TopGolf to promote diversity in Golf. Brian Amlani created Change the Game to unite celebrities and pro athletes in the name of diversity in sports.
Among the attendees were NFL icons Terrell Owens and Reggie Bush, “One on One” star Robert Ri’chard, Chargers linebacker Eric Kendricks, UCLA stand-out D.J. Justice and two-time World Series champion David Justice.
“Somebody like Tiger Woods did so much for just showing us that there is a pathway for us in this sport,” Bush said.
In the past, Change the Game has hosted celebrity flag football and baseball games.
“We wanted a golf component because golf, as far as sports goes, needs the most diversity … more people of color to be introduced to the game,” Amlani said. “[I] reached out to my friends at TravisMathew … they were all on board with letting us create this experience with them and showcasing and bringing more people into golf.”
Owens came to the event rocking apparel from his clothing line Prototype81.
“The fabric of who I am is what went into really creating my clothing line,” Owens said. “I go to the Hall of Fame like “how did I get here?” and so I always thought about my three D’s which enabled me to get there and that’s desire, dedication, and discipline.”
The event began with a panel discussion with Chicago Bears legend Tommie Harris and Lil Wayne and Young Money Records executive vice president/GM Karen Civil. During the panel, they talked about the importance of Juneteenth, inclusion, and gratitude.
“I think it’s important for men to unite and to bring in family and bring in doing things for kids and being examples of how to be poised,” Ri’chard said. “Change the Game is doing that for every walk of life.”
The celebrities then took to TopGolf’s 10-hole golf course to compete in a par 3 shootout challenge for prizes. After the shootout challenge, the participants competed in a hole-in-one contest in the golf bays; each competitor got three chances to get a hole-in-one from 150 yards out. The winner received $25,000.
“It gives them an outlet to do something competitive, but not have it be as serious as whatever their sport is and not have it be as serious if they’re an actor,” said TravisMathew CEO Ryan Ellis.
Coming off competing in the Chargers’ fourth-annual Invitational Golf Tournament, Kendricks looked forward to giving back while being humble about his golfing skills.
“I’m gonna try to be a sleeper today,” Kendricks said. “Just talk a small game and hopefully overachieve.”
Justice took tutelage from his father for the event and his career.
“A great experience following my dad’s footsteps,” Justice said. “I get to see how he operates, life after ball, that’s what he’s doing now, so I get to see what that’s like after I’m done playing.”
Super Bowl 50 champion T.J. Ward routinely plays golf and enjoys the high level of focus it takes to play the sport.
“It’s so hard to focus for 18 holes,” Ward said. “It’s pretty difficult but it’s fun to take over that focus.”
UCLA wide receiver Kyle Ford noticed how certain aspects of golf can translate into football.
“You hit a bad shot, you got to regroup,” Ford said. “Next-play type mentality.”