Visiting with the Minnesota Metro Chapter are far left LeeAnn Finger and 4th from right Pam Swensen and Lisa Lifer far right.
PGA Championship Week – what a week for the sport of golf! Events such as the PGA Championship represent the pinnacle of our sport as it brings together the greatest players to test their mettle on spectacular and demanding layouts. That’s what is happening inside the ropes. However, the action outside the ropes is equally as riveting and this past week was no exception.
On Wednesday, the PGA of America in conjunction with the EWGA hosted a special “behind the scenes tournament experience” for more than 70 professional women from the Twin Cities. I was fortunate to speak to this impressive group of executive women as we lunched then toured the PGA Media Center, Mercedes-Benz Experience and the PGA Learning Center. It truly was about connecting women to the game of golf – and that’s what the EWGA is all about. Joining me were several leaders from the EWGA’s Minnesota Metro Chapter and the President-elect of the EWGA‘s Board of Directors, Lisa Lifer. The afternoon was filled with keen insights into the tournament operations, networking and of course recruiting future EWGA members.
That evening, the PGA recognized and honored William Powell with the highest honor the PGA bestows: the Distinguished Service Award. . His love affair with golf began at the age of 9 when he became a caddie. However, when he returned from WWII after serving our country, he was denied access to play golf here in the U.S. So, in 1946, Powell’s journey began where he boldly crossed racial boundaries when he followed his dream to build a golf course. This gentle grandson of Alabama slaves became the only African-American to build, own and operate a golf course known as Clearview Golf Club in the United States. Today, Clearview Golf Club is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and “America’s Course” as Powell once said, “is a course where the only color that matters is the color of the greens”.
Pictured above are Bill Powell (seated), Renee Powell, Pam Swensen and Lisa Lifer.
Bill Powell’s pioneering efforts have been carried on by his daughter Renee, the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf and a PGA and LPGA Professional. Renee was the second African-American to compete on the LPGA Tour following tennis legend Althea Gibson.
The PGA’s Distinguished Service Award Ceremony was such a moving tribute to not only Bill but the Powell family. I am proud to say that Renee is also a member of the EWGA family and through the EWGA Foundation’s assistance, we too our making a contribution to the preservation and fulfillment of Bill and Renee’s dreams at Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, OH.
On Thursday morning, the leaders of the industry convened for a Golf 20/20 Executive Committee meeting where we were greeted and celebrated the announcement that “Golf Made the Cut” as the IOC Executive Board recommended two sports (golf and rugby) for inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games. The IOC’s final vote on whether to add as many as two sports will take place on October 9th in Copenhagen, Denmark. Throughout this process, the golf industry has demonstrated unprecedented unified support including the resounding support of golf’s top ranked male and female players. So, you can imagine the excitement when the official announcement was shared during this meeting. Only one more hurdle to go!
And now back to the action inside the ropes. In the annals of sporting achievements, the story of South Korea’s Y.E. Yang has got to be close to the top of the list. On Sunday, with the world watching and expecting Tiger Woods to march confidently to his 15th major championship win, a far different story unfolded. The victory, Yang’s second this season, was the first major championship win for an Asian man and will most certainly have a positive impact on golf in Asia.
It was a fitting ending to an historic week in golf.
Next up on my travel schedule: Another milestone in the history of golf. This time it’s The Solheim Cup Matches at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois. Stay tuned.