Women Of Color Golf At Innisbrook, “A Valspar Championship Week To Remember”
All Images Courtesy African American Golfer's Digest
As We Move Closer To International Women’s Day, Here's A Great Example Of A Group Demonstrating How To Get More Women And Diversity Into The Game - (British Columbia Golf)
If you are even thinking about taking up the game of golf— and have found reason after reason to keep putting it off— then, you must read this story.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Many have either delayed or totally put off the one decision which can and will change your life. Read here about Clemmie Perry, founder and CEO of Women Of Color Golf (WOCG) and how she has helped to impact the lives of women in Tampa, Florida, forever by introducing them to all of the benefits that come with participating and enjoying the game.
Pay particular attention to the reflections of one of these women, who put it in perspective in her own words.
WOCG was very busy during the Valspar Championship week, March 5 -11, being invited to and attending several of the exciting events that week which included:
- Attendance at the Executive Women’s Day Luncheon with Dr. Sheila Johnson (African American Female Owner of the Innisbrook & Salamander Resorts), Beverly Johnson (1st African American Model to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine, World Renown Model and beauty Mogul) and Keynote Speaker Carla Harris (Morgan Stanley, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth)
- Participation in an exclusive and intimate brunch with Dr. Sheila Johnson and the WOCG Millennial Group. The group was invited to see Dr. Johnson receive the Cecil B. Day Ethics Award in Hospitality, from Florida State University.
- A special field trip by the WOCG 2018 Class to attend the Valspar Championship, experience a professional golf tournament and to see Tiger Woods play before a record crowd at the Valspar Championship.
These special ladies had just completed their first five-week class with the Women of Color Golf in Tampa and TopGolf Tampa. These ladies, through the efforts of Clemmie Perry, experienced more in these few weeks than others might experience in a lifetime.
One of the newly converted golfers, Colette Glover-Hannah, founder of Hannah’s Shoe Box reflects on her new golf journey, which started just six weeks ago when she registered for a Women of Color Golf Beginner Golf Clinic.
IN HER OWN WORDS: “My Journey Into Golf”
Colette Glover-Hannah, Founder, Hannah's Shoe Box
“During the past few years, the thought of playing golf had entered my mind,” says Colette, “It was usually triggered from a visual on a presentation recruiting visitors to a facility, or an outing, or by pictures of friends or business acquaintances posting on social media.” It was these same ideas that would repeatedly enter this business owner’s mind.
“H’mm, one day, I will at least examine learning to play,” she said. “By that I mean, I will search how to play golf on Google or YouTube. Well, then is now, and I am loving learning to play.”
A few months ago, Colette got a call from Clemmie, whom she says she was familiar with but didn’t know well at the time. “She asked if we could do lunch and I quickly responded, yes, to the offer.”
Colette recalls, “After comparing notes about how we are navigating the path of entrepreneurship as startups, she mentioned an upcoming beginner’s golf session at her program. I was eager to participate and immediately accepted the offer to join the others in the program.”
In a partnership with Top Golf, the WOCG program has produced the necessary tools for a dynamic introductory program, as well as laid a foundation for sustainable expansion. “After only a few weeks of participating in the program, my four cohorts and I were introduced to one of eight African American women in history who has played in the LPGA: Shasta Averyhardt who shared her journey as a woman of color in golf, chronicling her journey as a collegiate athlete to her current challenges on the golf tour,” admits Colette.
“We were excited to be introduced to someone who is so dedicated and committed to the sport that we are now beginning to play. After the interaction with golf greatness, we were informed that we would take a ‘field trip’ to the Valspar Championship PGA Tour.
(l-r) Clemmie Perry, Founder and CEO of Women of Color Golf & Dr. Sheila Johnson
We were eager to visit Valspar to see the game up close that we were learning to play, as well as walk the golf course to see its layout. Then IT happened. The announcement that Tiger Wood would be joining the tournament! As a newbie in the sport, we were in shock at the rate that our exposure to the game was rapidly expanding.”
“I had the opportunity to spend two days at the Valspar Championship with the other women in the WOCG cohort. The first day was filled with sheer excitement from the moment we touched the grounds of Innisbrook. We entered the golf course at the seventh hole and literally walked right into a gathered crowd. We had absolutely no idea what was going on around us but had a feeling that it was big. Surrounded by onlookers who were vying for the premier spot— to be right at the rope. We quickly understood the importance of each bystander’s position on the green.”
“After about 20 minutes on the 7th hole, we heard rumblings of the name “Tiger.” In fact, we quickly realized those voices were quietly announcing the arrival of Tiger. Because the rows were four-to-five people deep from the rope, I had to literally jump up to get a mere glimpse at the person once referred to as the King of the Course.”
“I could not believe my eyes as Tiger walked down the fairways toward my section of the tee box. I still had no idea about what was supposed to happen, or about to happen for that matter. All I knew was that we needed to find a better spot. Cathy, my WOCG cohort and longtime friend, and I walked around until we found a clear spot on the side of the tee box that would allow us to get a better glimpse of Tiger. I had so many thoughts going through my head as Tiger finally appeared on the tee.”
“We were clicking pictures and video as fast as we could while he did practice swings. And then he made that one stroke that garnered a huge round of applause from the crowd— that I could only liken to the cheers that I had heard after a touchdown in football, or a dunk on the basketball court. People immediately started calling Tiger’s name out loud and proceeded to participate in a great migration as they followed Tiger from each hole to the other.”
“Cathy and I decided to stall our Tiger trek. We decided to visit the 11th hole where we would join the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center’s tent. As we are moving toward the destination, we hear whispers of Tiger’s name again. We slowed down and realized that Tiger’s making his way down the fairway to our location.
This time we can have a front row spot for this viewing of Tiger. In about 10-15 minutes here comes Tiger, again! A reporter noticed us taking pictures and recording video of Tiger’s performance and decided to interview us about ‘the Tiger Effect’ for a local daily newspaper.”
VALSPAR DAY #2
“The second day at Valspar was even more eventful, because, I was joined by the other four women on my Women of Color Golf program. Thanks to Clemmie’s patience in waiting for our arrival, we were all able to snag great seats on a bench at the third hole to see several great golfers literally hit their balls down the fairway that landed right in front of us. After exploring Innisbrook and seeing Tiger once more, we knew that we had made the right decision to pursue this sport,” exclaimed Colette.
“As black women, and a golf beginner, we were very conscious of our presence at Valspar. While we were probably there for the same reasons that the other 195,000 people who attended, we were without a doubt noticeably different from those others. During the two days that I attended the event, I saw very, very, very few black women participants.
My cohorts and I whispered about the stares we received from the other observers, as well as the being misidentified as employees of the tournament and the subtle announcement of “here comes trouble” as we entered the gates of the facility. Hence the need for a movement to bring more black women to recreational golf. I consider this ‘movement’ to be part of a greater shift to occur in golf.”
THE MANY BENEFITS
“The need for more diversity and inclusion in golf is evident. The past couple of months have been incredible for me as a newcomer. Again, meeting Shasta, seeing Tiger, and having a private meet and greet with golf royalty Renee Powell, supports my belief that this golf journey is preordained.
Those of us who are part of the WOCG program understand the possibilities that occur from learning and playing this game. The fact that our income on average may increase by 17 percent, that we are increasing our circle of influence via networking and, that we may even live longer. All the attributes mentioned are attractive and beneficial for anyone interested in learning and playing the game, but for WOCG they are truly game changers.
By the way. Tiger Woods finished second, by 1 stroke, to the winner, Paul Casey. This was Tiger’s best finish since he tied for 10th at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
Now that you have read Colette’s story, go out and sign up and learn to play and experience this great game. If you need to find a group or professional just contact me and I will connect you to someone in your area who is as dedicated as Clemmie Perry is—and continues to be, in Tampa.
James R. Beatty is Founder of NCS International, an Omaha, Nebraska-based company that provides an array of economic development services. He serves as Executive Editor at the African American Golfer’s Digest and on the Golf 20/20 Diversity Task Force.
James Beatty, Executive Editor, African American Golfer's Digest