The Dr. Is In

March 8th is National Women’s Day. The day is meant to commemorate and celebrate female pioneers who stood up and fought for the rights of women’s equality everywhere. To go hand-in-hand with February’s Black History Month, I’d like to talk about a historical woman of color who resides just 45 minutes from me in Canton, Ohio. Coincidentally, this woman will also be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this week as the inaugural recipient of the Charlie Sifford Award for advancing diversity within the game of golf.

Dr. Renee Powell is the LPGA/PGA Head Professional at Clearview Golf Club. Her father Bill Powell built the course in 1946 during times of extreme racial injustice and segregation. So as a young girl, Renee learned what it meant and what it took to excel against the odds. She began swinging a club at the age of 3, and by the time she reached her mid-teens she had won over 30 tournaments. In 1967, she became the 2nd African-American woman to compete on the LPGA Tour. Althea Gibson was the first. As a professional, Powell competed in over 250 tournaments world-wide, and won the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. Powell with father Bill during her LPGA tour days

Once her travelling and competing days came to an end, Powell’s hand on the game of golf was not even close to being over…not by a long shot. She became an International Goodwill Ambassador, traveling to Africa almost 30 times to host golf clinics. Growing the game within the black community wasn’t her only mission. She also committed to expanding golf to youth, women, seniors, veterans, and other minority groups. In 2011 she launched Clearview H.O.P.E. (Helping Out Patriots Everywhere). HOPE was a cost-free, year-round, recreational golf program aimed at female military veterans as a therapeutic outlet. By this time in her life, Renee had become an extremely sought after public speaker.

Here are just some of Renee Powell’s career achievements, awards, and accolades.

One of two women to receive honorary membership into the Royal & Ancient of St. Andrews

PGA of America First Lady of Golf

LPGA Rolex For the Love of the Game Award

PGA Tour Card Walker Award

USGA Ike Granger Award

LPGA Pioneer Award

Donald Ross Award

Charles Bartlett Award

LPGA Ellen Griffin Rolex Award

In 2008, Powell became the 3rd American, and only female golfer, to ever receive an honorary doctorate from The University of St. Andrews, Scotland, which is now 600 years old. In 2010 she was honored with another doctorate, this time from The University of Maryland Eastern Shore. They awarded her with a Doctorate of Public Service. Yes, this why we call her Dr. Renee Powell.

The doc has also dabbled in other areas of golf, not just public service. During her time residing in London, England, she was one of the first women golfers to design her own apparel line. She has also commentated a number of tournaments on both CBS and NBC throughout her career.

Today she’s busy keeping her father’s legacy alive at Clearview GC with the “Golf for Everyone” initiative. She stays active throughout her local community as a board member for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Mercy Medical Center, Pathway Caring for Children, and as a member of Rotary International.

As aforementioned, Dr. Powell joins the elite of the elite this week as she will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 2022 class includes former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Susie Berning, Northern California legend Marion Hollins, and another African-American golf legend you may have heard of…Tiger Woods.

Enjoy the game and each other,

Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional

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