While visiting Washington D.C. a couple years ago, a friend of mine called me and said, “You need to come to this golf facility and meet the woman who founded it. You’ll love her.”

I ventured over to downtown, and walked into City Swing, an indoor golf facility with a high-end boutique and exclusive feel. Upon entering, City Swing’s founder, Tari Cash, gave me a big warm smile and immediately made me feel at home. Soon, we were hitting golf balls, and through that, a friendship was formed.

Cash’s foray into golf didn’t have its typical start. She didn’t grow up in a golf obsessed family, ever play competitively, nor did her career even begin anywhere near the golf industry. Her journey began in finance before heading to Harvard Business School to get her MBA. Then she pivoted, entering the car industry helping Tesla open a branch in the D.C. area. After a pit stop at Under Armour, Cash decided it was time for a new adventure, and to merge her love for golf into a business idea.

I chatted with my friend about the path that led her to starting City Swing, and how the pandemic has caused her shift gears with the business, with the main idea of it still intact: to grow the game.

So tell me, how did you find yourself starting a golf business?

I love this question because I think so many experiences that I had before the golf industry have led me to the point where I feel like I can be really successful in the golf industry. So I started my career in financial services, working for City Group, and managed Citibank branches on the upper East side of New York City. It was the first time that I had my own profit and loss statement and had employees to manage. And as I like to say, I had the keys to my own little business, and obviously it very much wasn’t mine, but I think from day one, I treated it like it was mine.

And that to me is entrepreneurial spirit right there. So without even calling myself an entrepreneur, I think I learned and realized that I wanted to truly be one. From there, I went to Harvard and got my MBA. And it was there that I began exploring the auto industry, and at the time the auto industry had a lot of training programs for women and people of color. That’s when I decided to go into the auto industry, learn that business. Not much later, I ran the entire East coast for Tesla from a sales marketing and operations perspective and grew the business in D.C.

Okay, so you started off in finance, then went into the auto industry. Where did the genesis of your love for golf begin?

So I first held a golf club when I was about 16 or 17. My dad had gotten really into golf, and for Father’s Day, my mom took my brother and I to get a golf lesson to surprise my dad.

To this day he describes it as his worst Father’s Day ever, because we had only taken one lesson, and on the course had to let the entire club play through and it was a nightmare for him! I didn’t really develop an interest in the game then, but when I went to business school, I started to take it more seriously and honestly fell in love with it.

What did you love about the game?

I love the strategy. I love self-improvement and the ability to get better at things. I think golf is one of the best ways to see that addiction through because I’m always striving to get better.

Alright, so you go to Tesla, and I know you spent some time at Under Armour, which is where you really started to think about starting a golf business, right?

Yeah, exactly. There I had the opportunity to learn about storytelling and brand building, and what it takes to make people believe in something. But it was there that I really learned that when I talked about golf with people I felt seen and heard in a different way. It was then I began to understand the power of golf in a corporate environment.

How did you decide to take the leap to start City Swing?

After Under Armour, I briefly started working at a technology company, and when I realized that the only time I felt seen or heard was through golf, that is when the light bulb went off. I wanted to create a company that would allow more people to experience the positive side of being seen and heard in the corporate world. And to me, golf was the instrument to do that simultaneously. I live in downtown Washington, DC., and thought to myself, “I need to make sure my golf game is good, because if I do ever get out on the course with these guys, I want to beat all of them.” I began researching places where I could practice indoors and work on my swing for, you know, 20-30 minutes, but nothing that like existed in D.C.

You and I both lived in NYC, and there are indoor golf facilities all over the place. It’s kind of crazy that nothing really existed in D.C. already.

I know! And I realized that we had the opportunity to be first to market in Washington, and I had this passion to make sure more people, (really more my girlfriends) to feel like they had a place to go and to learn.  It all just kind of came together very quickly. And the entrepreneur in me knew that this was the right time.


I mean, it’s kind of scary, though, to start a new business. Did you have any of your own reservations of trying to break into this industry?

It’s funny, because had I known what I know now after four years into this, it definitely would have been scary. I was so naïve about what it takes to start a business. I was just full speed ahead, a hundred miles per hour. You know, there, there was a bit of naivete as people like to say when I got started. But I think that really helped me. And I would say to anybody that wants to start a business don’t think about it, just do it because if you think about it, that’s where all the scary stuff comes in. So it’s just about getting out of your own way and just diving into the deep end headfirst. That’s what I did, and I’m thankful that the fear never got in the way for me.

What did you have to do and learn to start City Swing?

I traveled the country, also went to London and visited about 20 indoor golf facilities. I spoke to the owner operators to understand the technology and to see the breadth of how this business was being run around the country. Then I wrote my business plan. But what was really eye opening for me is when I went to the PGA Merchandise Show, and I was like, “Holy cow! What did I get myself into?” It was there that I met everyone that you could think of in the golf industry and learned about things that I didn’t even realize I needed. I truly believe that it was after I left the PGA Merchandise Show that that was when the business began.

I know since you’ve opened your doors in 2018, you’ve had to pivot some because of the pandemic. What is City Swing doing now?

We initially had three different phases when we started City Swing. Phase one was business planning. Phase two was the proof of concept, which was our pop-up. Phase three was supposed to be the full scale version of the business. We were transitioning between phase two and phase three. Then COVID hit when we were very, very close to finalizing a real estate deal. We had to stop the process and it was heartbreaking. I’ll be honest and say, I felt like a failure, even though it had nothing to do with me. But I hadn’t been able to realize my dreams that I had been working on for so long. Everything was so out of my control and it all happened so fast.

So what did you do?

I was hurt, but I was not deterred. And what I’m so excited about with my team is that we rolled up our sleeves and we said, “Okay, we got to figure out who we want to be. Like, if we were designing the business right now, what would we do? How would we design an indoor golf business in the middle of a global pandemic? Let’s just take some white sheets of paper and map that out. And I can’t share everything with you right now, but we have some really, really creative ideas that we are in the middle of executing right now. They will take City Swing to the next level, and we are a much better business for having gone through this experience.


Can you give us a little a hint as to what the pivot will be?

I will say it like this: City Swing has evolved from an indoor ball facility to a business that is re-imagining how people play golf, where people play golf, and then especially, and most importantly, who is playing golf. So I’m gonna leave you with that very ambiguous answer. But we are trying to innovate on the how, the where, and the who.

It sounds like it’s centered in creating accessibility.

That’s always been important. We’ve always been a mission oriented, social impact type brand. I’ve seen how I have benefited from playing this tremendous game beyond it helping me professionally. We don’t talk enough about the mental health aspects of playing golf and the physical health aspects of playing golf. You know, you think about you’re in an office, and it’s a Friday, and half of your office cleared out and everybody’s stressed, everyone’s got projects and deadlines, but half of your office clears out and they go to the golf course and you’re still in the office grinding away. From just a mental health perspective there is a tremendous imbalance, and I want to speak more about that, especially in this day and time where mental health is getting its rightful sort of seat at the table in terms of something that we need to be addressing for all people. So yes, we are doubling down on the social impact side of golf.

Well, lucky me, I actually know what your plans are *wink wink*, but I hope readers of this stay tuned because I know what you’re building is going to be remarkable. How can people stay up to date on City Swing’s journey?

You can go to our website and sign up to become part of our community, and we do have a monthly newsletter. And obviously, please follow us on our social channels @CitySwing to see what we’re doing on a daily basis!