Club Spotlight: Making Cuts On & Off the Course
TROPICANA GOLF CLUB AND BARBER SHOP
In 2019, Jimmy Ruiz (aka Jimmy Tropicana) opened a barbershop in Glendora. He’d been a golfer for many years, and found himself constantly recruiting for the next weekend’s foursome. Tropicana Golf Club and Barber Shop, he recognized, would be the perfect location to bring both passions together.
By combining the barbershop with a mixed-use golf space — which included a putting green and a full-size simulator — he could find plenty of potential playing partners, and plenty of golfers who needed a haircut.
From there, Ruiz decided to make things “SCGA-official,” and the Tropicana Players Club was born. “Tropicana Players Club is a golf club for the average golfer who wants to make new friends, play more golf, have more fun and get their USGA handicap to play competitive golf in a fair environment,” he says.
“There isn’t a ‘typical’ member. The only requirement is that you be cool.”
The best part of Tropicana, Ruiz says, is that it belongs to everyone.
“I get satisfaction when people say ‘my barbershop’ or ‘my golf club.’ I want people to take ownership. They represent it as their own and that’s how it should be. When you go to Supercuts you don’t say, ‘I’m going to get my haircut at my barbershop.’ And I wanted to change that.”
Ruiz believes that there’s a sense of belonging that a golf club or a barbershop instills. While the two cultures may appear distinct and unrelated on the surface, they are actually quite similar. He illustrates this idea with a story: “Growing up my grandfather would take me to a barbershop located in a carport of an apartment complex. There would be between four to six old guys there at all times. The best part was, they were all bald. “I knew this place was something more than a place to get your hair cut,” he recalls. “They came to the barbershop to tell stories, tell jokes, talk politics and news, and just be with friends. I had no idea that I was falling in love with the idea (and the smell) of the barbershop.”
As Ruiz got older, “I found the same type of camaraderie out on the golf course,” he says. “Four hours of storytelling in a judgment-free zone. On my 35th birthday, I decided I needed to put these two institutions together. Tropicana Golf Club & Barber Shop was the offspring.”
From the story behind its founding, to the golf shop/barbershop “clubhouse” in Glendora, to the group’s name itself, Tropicana Players Club is centered on the idea of providing a place for people to gather and get away.
“When you think ‘Tropicana,’ you think tropical — and from there you think vacation, relaxing and cocktails,” Ruiz says. “The anxiety backpack that everyone carries around right now is getting heavy, and if I can help you take that weight off for a few hours during a haircut or during a round of golf, I’m here for you.”
Looking to the future, Ruiz has big plans for Tropicana — both the players club and the golf shop-barbershop. “In 25 years, there will be four physical locations,” he says. “That is enough where I can still keep the integrity and keep my vision of how each shop is supposed to operate.
“The Tropicana Players Club concept will be much larger and will spread all over Southern California,” he continues. “Here it is in a nutshell: Imagine adult softball. You join a league and then you’re put on a team, depending on your area. You play against other teams from other areas with a regular season, playoffs and finally a Super Bowl-like championship. And the winning team gets an all-expenses-paid golf vacation.”
Which may seem like a pretty serious endeavor, but anyone thinking that Ruiz fancies himself the next Roger Goodell is forgetting his core mission.
“In adult softball, there are rules,” Ruiz says. “There’s a winner, a loser and it’s official. But there are also guys drinking beers and smoking cigars in the dugout.”
Blending competition with camaraderie, Tropicana is a club made for that part of us all that wishes we could be the bald guy hanging at the barbershop — shooting the breeze with our buddies and bonding over the game we all love.
Want to learn more about Tropicana Golf Club and Barber Shop or find similar golf communities near you? Visit clubfinder.scga.org — and remember, never play alone.