Best of: The Passing of Lee Elder and his impact — Black women on the LPGA — Must-click women’s golf links
Happy New Year golf fans! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are staying safe. My holiday has been extended as I am currently residing poolside in Jamaica! But fear not, I wouldn’t dare leave you all to fend for yourselves. To start us off, we will revisit an earlier piece I did…
Happy New Year golf fans!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are staying safe. My holiday has been extended as I am currently residing poolside in Jamaica!
But fear not, I wouldn’t dare leave you all to fend for yourselves. To start us off, we will revisit an earlier piece I did about Lee Elder and racism in golf.
This is a piece that I am immensely proud of and each time I read it I have new feelings and thoughts. I can only hope that you all feel and do the same.
I’ll be back next week, happy (re)reading!
You know that anxious feeling you get when you walk into a room full of strangers? We’ve all been there, right? It can be crippling.
Now imagine that you’re walking into a room full of not only strangers but a small group of them have decided that they don’t like you. Despite the fact that they’ve never met you before, they have no idea the kind of person you are or where you come from–they decided that they just don’t like you.
It’s an oversimplification, but it’s what Lee Elder did in 1975 at Augusta National.
Mr. Elder passed away earlier this week, and the world of golf is mourning him and his legacy. He was a pioneer and a legend and I hope that we can truly comprehend his bravery for being a black man in golf.
This is my fifth Golf Thursday at The IX, by now, you all are familiar with my stance on how the golf industry treats women, so, I feel like it’s about time we discuss racism.
Talking about racism can go a lot of ways but I don’t want this to get too preachy, nor do I feel the need to divulge in all the times I’ve experienced racism on a golf course. The world has gotten too familiar with the display of black trauma and I won’t be making a contribution.
Nevertheless, golf at its core is racist.
The Masters, the crown jewel of American golf, has a deep-rooted history with racism. Co-founder of Augusta National and The Masters, Clifford Roberts said himself, “as long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.” Albeit the man was born in 1894, still it is very telling of the kind of culture that has been cultivated at Augusta since its establishment.
Make no mistake about it, the south isn’t the only place that harbors racism. In 2018, a group of black women, who called themselves “Sisters in the Fairway”, in York County, Pennsylvania had their afternoon turned upside down. These women were members of Grandview Golf Club and had the police called on them for “slow pace of play”. I encourage you to read the full Golf Digest article about what these women went through, the response of the club and its owners, and the unfortunate outcome that none of the women involved play golf anymore.
So many elements of golf can serve as a metaphor for society in the United States. It’s praised for its individualism, the foundation of country club culture is to be exclusive to the rich, and for much of its history women and minorities have been kept out. For so long, the golf industry hasn’t been required to change with the times. The PGA was the last of major American sports organizations to desegregate. It was only in 1990 when the first black member at Augusta was admitted. In 2012 the first women members were admitted, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
If you’re wondering why I am writing about Lee Elder when this newsletter is about women in sports, I need you to understand that gender and race-based discrimination in golf don’t exist in separate spheres, they happen concurrently and it’s why the number of black golfers continues to dwindle. What Mr. Elder did, opened the door for other minority golfers across the country and we should never forget it.
There’s so much to be said about the direction golf should go in, in terms of its relationship with minorities. This article from The Ringer beautifully articulates how golf’s long-term relationship with racism isn’t ending anytime soon.
Despite it all, I choose to remain hopeful that our country and the game will finally do right by people of color. Pretending that racism doesn’t actively exist is why we had the explosion of frustration last summer, and it will only get worse with performative activism.
So, as we enter a new month, and close out the year, I hope we all continue to show empathy towards one another and never stop learning.
“None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” — Cornel West
This week in women’s golf:
College Golf News:
Five at The IX: Black Women on the LPGA Tour
We’ve established that golf is seriously lacking on the diversity front (read the article I wrote on why this is a psychological issue), but what continues to baffle me is that in the history of the LPGA (founded in 1950), there’s only been eight black women on tour.
This week’s five at The IX will just have to be five plus three.
From 1963 until 2001 there were only three black women that had played on the LPGA. Althea Gibson, Renee Powell, and LaRee Sugg.
Gibson broke barriers on the tennis court as well as on the course and is the definition of an absolute legend!
Renee Powell may be a more popular name due to her father being the founder of Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio. Powell is extremely active with the LPGA and being an advocate for people of color in the golf industry.
LaRee Sugg is a bit of a hometown hero for me. She was born in Petersburg, VA and is now the Deputy Director of Athletics for Policy and Sports Management/Senior Woman Administrator/Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Richmond. She turned professional in 1992 and joined the LPGA in 1995.
The next bunch have only hit the tour in the last decade.
Shasta Averyhardt became the fourth black woman on the LPGA in 2011. Averyhardt attended Jackson State University and had a decorated collegiate career! JSU is an HBCU (Historically Black College or University), which is uniquely important because HBCUs don’t get a lot of recognition outside of the black community. She’s currently competing on the Symetra Tour!
I think most of us are familiar with Cheyenne Woods and her kinda famous uncle. But Cheyenne has created a name for herself beyond Tiger’s legacy and it’s almost impossible to want to root for her. She’s struggled the last few years but never fails to stay positive. Cheyenne has been a role model of mine since I was a junior golfer, so much of how I looked and swung was modeled after her.
Sadena Parks became the sixth black woman on the LPGA in 2013 (through Q-school). Parks is remarkable on so many fronts and her story is important for our theme of intersectionality–she’s also a member of the LGBTQIA community! She’s also active on the Symetra Tour.
Ginger Howard turned professional at age 17 (giving major Lydia Ko vibes). She also was the first Black golfer to earn a spot on the US Junior Ryder Cup team in 2010. Howard joined the LPGA in 2016, after earning her card through Q-school. She battled several injuries over the years and took some time off in 2018, but has been striving towards returning to the highest level.
Mariah Stackhouse, aka Mostackbirdies, was a standout at Stanford and is currently the only black woman active (full-time) on the LPGA. She recently earned her playing card at this past Q-series, and will be swinging on tour in 2022!
I’ve been cheering on Mariah since 2014 and will continue to do so. She’s a fierce competitor and I wish her all the best this year.
Each of these women have made history. But I don’t say that with pride. Eight black women in 72 years is nothing to be proud of and it should bother you.
We have to find ways to make golf more accessible moving forward.