These new-age golf gurus are bringing a new ethos to LA swing instruction
House music pulses as you pull up to the entrance and a staffer dressed in black steps out to greet you.
Would you like a sparkling water? What brings you here today? Strength and flexibility training? Mental game coaching? A putter fitting, plus restorative massage?
From the ambience and offerings, you might think you’ve arrived at a nightclub crossed with a golf academy or a yoga studio run by swing gurus. In fact, it’s Urban Golf Performance, an L.A.-born outfit that treats game improvement as a bleeding edge, mind-body pursuit.
“It goes way beyond giving golf lessons,” says Mackenzie Todd, Urban Golf’s founder and CEO. “There’s a different energy and ethos that people really gravitate towards.”
A former high-level junior golfer, Todd, age 38, launched Urban Golf 10 years ago in a tiny, sublet space, drawing on a holistic approach that melded sports science with psychology and spirituality.
Part instructor, part shrink, part concierge, part mystic, Todd worked with students on equipment and mechanics even as he helped with their state of mind. In the decade since, the business has grown from a one-man studio into a respected brand, with two outposts in Los Angeles, satellite locations in Orange County and Carmel and a client list that ranges from entertainment industry executives just taking up the game to Collin Morikawa (pictured above, with Urban Golf COO Leo Rooney), Kurt Kitayama and rising LPGA star Lilia Vu.
“Like so much else in L.A., there is a social scene and status attached to golf here, and I think we’ve tapped into that,” Todd says. “It’s like going to a Lakers game, with the purple and gold. You can identify with the brand, and it carries a certain prestige and cachet.”