What an exciting time to be in the game of GOLF?
I think, we all can agree that the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in the popularity of the sport. At the beginning of the pandemic, the lockdown protocols made it was difficult to be physically active. Playing golf became the only way to safely be active amongst a group of people. As you would expect, when the demand for a round of golf increased so did the price of green fees. For many Black Americans, Golf quickly went from a causal sport played occasionally to an habitual sport played by many. Here in the Charlotte region, we saw the green fees almost double and the ability to find a good tee time decline. That was the spark of the new Black Golf Renaissance.
This isn't the first renaissance either. To be completely fair to our history, Black Americans were not allowed to play this game for some time. Up until 1961, there was a Caucasian-only clause in the PGA Bylaws that prevented our official ability to play, let alone have access to facilities and equipment. However, that did not stop a determined few. Searching across the internet, you will quickly find stories of Black Americans all across the country who snuck onto courses to play. Many became caddies in order to have access. In fact, I have previously wrote about the Pitch & Putt Club of Baltimore, Maryland, which was a organization that was formed because Black Americans were only allowed to Pitch and Putt on select days of the week in the city. There seems to be a story like this in each city across the country. Here is Charlotte, North Carolina, we celebrate the famed Dr. Charles L. Sifford. Dr. Sifford started out as a caddy, then went on to compete and win the Long Beach Open in 1957. In 1961, when the PGA of America removed the "Caucasian-only clause" from the Bylaws, Dr. Sifford received his PGA tour card and went on to win other PGA events. Please read his book "Just let me play". It is a must read for any golfer.
The next renaissance would come in the late nineties when Tiger Woods dominated the PGA. I can remember attending a golf summer camp in St. Louis, Missouri, when Tiger made an appearance. He spoke to the campers for a few minutes, then he proceeded to hit several golf shots. He stood the tee-box and said, "I'm going to hit this ball around that tree on the left out there". Boom. Then, "I'm going to hit this ball around the one on the right". Boom. Watching Tiger call his shot was a pivotal moment for me. It was something that I have seen on the basketball court, or baseball field, but never on the golf course. I was in awe. Before then, I knew of Black American athletes in other professional sports, but this was the first time that I saw one playing golf. I wasn't the only one inspired either. Tiger Woods sparked a wave of Black Americans to the game. I know he made me feel like I can play the game too. More importantly, I wanted to play the game after watching Tiger.
We are now in the middle of a new renaissance and is amazing to be a part of. If you think about it, now that Black Americans have learned to play the game over the years, we are starting to explore other opportunities in the game as well. Attempting to become suppliers of equipment, apparel and information. There are black owned golf apparel companies such as Eastside Golf , TrapGolf , BuckaFogey and Bogey Boys that are leading the way with apparel. Then you have media companies such as the African American Golfers Digest and 1896Golf that provides information about current events and the history of the game. [Check out the African American Golfers Digest list of Black owned golf courses]. We (Greenwood GOLF) are the first to introduce a Black Owned golf ball to the industry. There are even community groups such as the Black Golfers Alliance and Black Golf TV that have organized to swap stories, promote events and create a golfers network. It gets even better. You have the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour (APGA), the Deuce AM Tour, and the John Shippen Invitational. All of these tournaments provide opportunities to play golf competitively.
One of the most exciting things to watch are the upcoming stars of the game; Willie Mack III, Wyatt Worthington II , Sadena Parks , Tory Mullins and Carter of Spectrum GOLF, just to name a few. Each of them have become personalities and brands in the game. The biggest salute goes to Mr. Jim Beatty, who hosted the 1st Annual African American Golf Expo in Atlanta, Georgia in 2021. He is hosting the 2nd Annual Expo here in Charlotte, August 27- August 31. Please come and learn more about the game and the industry that we love to play.
I am excited to be a part of this next wave of interest in the game. As I mentioned, I would call it a Renaissance. It reminds me of the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood was a community of Black owned business that thrived from the financial support of each other. Because of the laws, codes, or ordinances, Black Americans were not allowed to be present, let alone shop in the Caucasian areas. Therefore, leaders of the Black community organized and created their own shopping district or "Black Wall Street" as we know it today. According to this article by JSTOR Daily, "a dollar bill circulated 36 to 100 times” and remained in Greenwood “almost a year before leaving.”
If it is estimated that the golf industry is an $84 billion dollar industry in 2022, then there is a great opportunity for us to develop a GOLF community similar to that Greenwood, Oklahoma.
There is one thing that we all must remember, the enemy is the golf course, not each other.
Contact us if you would like to be a part of the Greenwood GOLF community at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Whether you are on the golf course, in your community or working in your career, Greenwood GOLF believes that every shot is rooted in the hope that it is the one.