'A Symbol of Inclusivity': Buena Gente Golf Infusing Latino Culture into New Apparel Line
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
The annual PGA Show in Orlando, Florida, can become a launchpad for any type of golf company to go on and make a name for themselves.
One great example from this year? Buena Gente Golf.
Founded by Jon Madera, Buena Gente — which translates to “good people” in Spanish — celebrates the growing number of diverse voices in the golf community, namely the rapidly growing segment of Latino golfers. The brand’s products draw from both contemporary and classic Latino culture, all in the name of breaking down barriers and stereotypes by welcoming every golfer’s story.
I had the opportunity recently to catch up with Madera, who shares below everything from his inspiration for Buena Gente to thoughts on the apparel industry, and how the company is striving to make golf more diverse.
What inspired you to create Buena Gente Golf?
Madera: I saw a real lack of representation for Latinos in the golf industry, and I wanted to create a brand that provided a sense of belonging and community for Latino golfers.
Driven by my passion for design and my desire to make a difference, I knew that I could create designs that not only celebrated our culture but also spoke to the unique experiences and perspectives of many underrepresented golfers with different backgrounds.
How did you get started in the apparel industry?
Madera: Around seven years ago, I started designing Latin-inspired shirts as a creative outlet from taking on product design leadership roles in the corporate world. What started as a hobby quickly evolved into a passion project, as I realized the potential to create designs that celebrated Latino culture in spaces where we aren't typically represented.
What is your golf background?
Madera: I didn't start playing until my early 20s, but it became difficult to find the time to play regularly with the responsibilities of a growing family and work. I also experienced some unfortunate incidents on the course that turned me off from dedicating more time to working on my game.
However, as I've found more balance in life, I've been able to dedicate more time to golf. Although I'm not a good player, I believe that my experiences give me a unique perspective and the ability to be a voice for those who want to play without the pressure of being perfect. I believe that while golf can be challenging, it's ultimately about having fun and enjoying the journey, and I'm excited to share that message with others through Buena Gente.
What is the mission of your brand?
Madera: Buena Gente means “good people” in Spanish. Our name represents who we are, and how we do everything by having fun along the way but, most importantly, providing a sense of belonging for many.
We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the golf industry, and we strive to inspire golfers of all backgrounds to embrace their unique experiences and identities on the course.
How was your experience at the PGA Show and what did you learn?
Madera: As someone who recognizes the importance of research in the design process, I knew that attending the PGA Show would provide me with a valuable opportunity to gain insights into the golf industry, understand the larger audience, identify market opportunities, and test whether my messaging resonated with attendees. The feedback that I received was overwhelmingly positive, and it gave me the confidence to see that my message and vision appealed to a much larger audience than I had initially anticipated.
What are some of your goals going forward?
Madera: My aim is for individuals to feel a sense of pride when they enter a golf course’s shop or go to a golf retail store and come across Buena Gente Golf, a brand that represents the fun-loving, charismatic spirit of Latinos and other underrepresented groups from around the world. It is my hope that the presence of Buena Gente on display will serve as a symbol of inclusivity in the golf community.
What can the industry do to help continue to make the game more diverse?
Madera: Fostering diversity in golf requires a commitment to understanding and appreciating the unique perspectives and experiences of all players, regardless of their background. That requires individuals to step out of their comfort zones and gain a deeper understanding of different groups.
As someone with extensive experience running brainstorming workshops, I believe that empathy and firsthand experience are key to achieving this goal. For example, visiting courses in different areas than one is accustomed to can open up a wealth of new ideas and perspectives.