How Erik Anders Lang is Changing the Game
Golf claps take a hike at Austin-based Random Golf Club
On a Friday night in the early fall, golf’s polished image was upended. Instead of aristocratically subdued games, loud hip hop played at Random Golf Club’s East Austin headquarters. Well-heeled young women sat on a wooden fence sipping canned cocktails. As dozens gathered around chipping boards to compete for swag, the announcer danced to Waka Flocka Flame and sang to ScHoolboy Q. Opposite the tournament, a Mobile Golf Simulator, like an inverted bounce house, took steady thwacks of golf balls. Lines formed to launch shots into the projected image of a green inside. The most aristocratic attendee was an affectionate leashed dog, possibly a King Charles Spaniel.
As a neophyte to the Random Golf Club community, much is forgiven: Thinking the tournament looked like a game of cornhole; not knowing what chipping was, for example. The group is centered on golf but offers a casual atmosphere and entry point to the sport, especially for beginners.
Founded by Erik Anders Lang, former photographer, documentary filmmaker, music video director, and ex-spouse to pop star Sia, the club welcomes casual players to a community of – for now, at least – mostly men. (“In Korea, golf is majority women,” said the founder.) The gameplay may look wild compared to typical rounds. In the Mad Scramble, for example, everyone plays on the same green at the same time. The entire course is reserved and the game is envisioned as a moving party.
Building connections and friendships
The RGC community is free to join, though paid subscriptions get member perks and events too, but all are welcome. The love of golf creates common ground, but the guiding principles seem to be using the game to build connections, foster a sense of belonging, and prioritize friendship.
Initially grown through volunteers who independently hosted events in their cities, RGC now boasts 35 active chapters globally. Local chapters have their own social media presence, but this August, Anders Lang launched an official app to help organize members who previously coordinated on Discord.
Sitting down to chat at Random Golf Club’s East Austin HQ
When we met Anders Lang at his East Austin headquarters, a large map of America covered the wall behind his desk. Handwritten dates covered the East Coast, indicating engagements for the The Mad Scramble tour he was to embark on in early November. It had been three years since the New Jersey-born, former New Yorker and Los Angelino relocated to the capital city, and more than a decade since, at age 29, he gave in to his older brother’s repeated invitations for him to try golf.
“It’s a magical game,” he told us, describing how it united his three passions: “nature, hanging out, and puzzles.” Yes, puzzles. For Anders Lang, “the mind game was the most fascinating.” Meditation helped, he said, and he told us his study of 50 golfers, part of his documentary film Be The Ball, proved it.
Now a golf influencer traveling the world touring links and parklands, he feels right at home in Austin, growing the game in a casual atmosphere from here.
Future Plans for Random Golf Club
The RGC backyard will become “a country club for the riff-raff,” ideally open by SXSW in 2024. Complete with a putting green, pickleball courts, and a golf simulator, the space will become a destination featuring food trucks and beer and wine. Like joining RGC, no actual membership fees will be required to show up and enjoy the atmosphere.
For paid members, a few featured perks are still in the nascent stages of their creation, among them an invitation to participate in an annual Golf Trip Experience, which Anders Lang hopes to launch next year. The Monthly Member Live Stream was also scheduled to kick off soon when we spoke to the golf lover.
For now, golfers can search the app and each local chapter’s Instagram account for more events like the chipping tournament we attended in the fall. At the end of the game, teams like the Green Bowl Packers walked away with gift bags. Men in t-shirts with the face of Stone Cold Steve Austin mingled with others who wore shirts that said “Caddy issues,” and laughed at their bad shots.
“Rule 17B of Random Golf Club is ‘Laugh at bad shots,’” said the chipping tournament announcer. “Don’t ever forget it.”
Erick Anders Lang’s Austin Favorites
We asked Erik Anders Lang to tell us about a few of his favorite places in Austin. Here’s what he said.
For shopping: Stag. “One of the best men’s stores in the world.”
For food: Casa de Luz and Bouldin Creek. “I just don’t want to feel like I’m in New York.”
For fun: Run on the Greenbelt and play pickleball at Millbrook, Austin High.
For golf: Butler Pitch & Putt. “It’s fast, fun, central, and casual.” The second choice goes to Riverside. “A beautiful sunset spot.”