Sometimes the story of something important winds along. It can come in fits and starts, and looking back it can seem both imperfect and circuitous. That's the story of how Matchstick and Muni Kids came to release our most recent marker, the PGA Dropout Bear.
Back in October, Matchstick was in its nascent stages, emerging from a late summer launch that saw a strong Fall season that had shocked even my loftiest expectations just three months into the company. We had a hit on our hands with the Cash Stack, and my vision for packaging, presentation, playability, and artwork seemed to resonate with people.
Meanwhile, I was personally making golf a bigger part of my life as I felt that embrace through Matchstick. I had seen Muni Kids post on its Instagram about Urban Golf, a weekly event in inner southeast Portland where folks would use old Goodwill clubs to wack foam practice balls around the neighborhood. I journeyed down one late summer evening, meeting both Max and Drew Reinland of Muni Kids.
I kept quiet about Matchstick, not wanting to be overly promotional — after all, I started the company because I wanted to have cool ball markers. If someone else wanted some too, that was great. But that's not the vibe here, and nor was it at Urban. Maybe that's why it made sense that soon after, Max hit me up and invited me down to the Neighborhood Golf Shop to talk, well, shop.
That early October morning Max and I chopped it up for the first time, talking Muni Kids, the Portland golf scene, small business ownership, Instagram... the list went on. We wanted to collab on something dope, and the wheels were set in motion.
Over the months, Max, Drew and I became better friends. The Neighborhood Golf Shop — an art, retail, and golf instruction space located at 425 SE 3rd Ave —is one of the spaces that Matchstick can be purchased in-person. It's become a space for me that's all positive vibes. If I need a break from work, from relationships, from the hectic grind of a "post"-COVID life, the shop is where I go. The idea of markers eventually fell off the horizon, a funny postscript to the story about finding my little golf family in Portland.
Months later, after many rounds of Urban Golf and trips to San Diego and nights spent together, eventually the conversation of summer releases for 2022 came back around. That led to Max and I brainstorming the idea of doing a series of ball markers together, with Drew's dope play on Kanye West's bear from the cover of "Graduation" front and center.
The PGA Bear is the first in a series of markers for 2022 that will be released in tandem between Matchstick and Muni Kids, with all of them coming in the extra thick 2.5mm pressing and in limited supply. This one hits home in particular — I'm of the age when Kanye's first three albums were formative music during high school and college and his impact, despite how you may feel about the rest of his career and personal life, will never be denied.
"Graduation" was so popular during my sophomore year of college that it would often run through, in its entirety, during a party only to be looped back again (and perhaps a third time). Sometimes derided as a more polished, but shallower through-line from "College Dropout" and "Late Registration" I've always felt as though it was one of the more perfect Ye albums — it's playable in so many settings, and the vibe can act as both rallying songs for a party and as background music.
Yet this is not a review of albums from my youth, when bootcut jeans were still popular and my hairline had not yet recessed from its widow's peak. Instead, the PGA Dropout mark is addition to but not the priority when I've found something I love very much — my friends, who I get to bond with over our love of golf, of rap, of music, and of life. That we get to work together and make cool shit for you is just a benefit.
There's more to come in that department, by the way, and I know you'll be stoked to see what comes next. For now, enjoy the 25 pieces we've created, and head over to the Muni Kids site to check out the rest of the new PGA Dropout series.