|Celebrating Black History Month Evokes Uplifting Golf Memories for Geneva College Professor Todd Allen, PGA Professional Jeffrey Dunovant|
|Allen stops at Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio, as part of his "Return to the Roots of Civil Rights Tour," and Donovant and his late father are the only African American father-son combination in PGA of America membership history.|
Celebrate, Educate, Empowerment, Innovation, Leadership and Inspiration.
Those impactful words border banners at PGA Headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., featuring individuals in golf who enhance Black History Month.
Images of African American golf pioneers such as Charlie Sifford and Lee Elder, along with boxing legend turned golf ambassador Joe Louis fill the lobby.
Among the banners are those of the late course designer-operator William Powell of East Canton, Ohio, and the late player-teacher Jimmie DeVoe, formerly of Los Angeles. They will be among a class of eight inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame, March 12, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Though he will not be able to attend the ceremony, Geneva College Assistant Professor of Communications Todd Allen of Beaver Falls, Pa., said Powell and Black History Month have a special synergy.
The past six years, Allen has guided the "Return to the Roots of Civil Rights Tour," ensuring that one scheduled stop is East Canton's Clearview Golf Club, which Powell built in 1946.
Powell passed away in December 2009, just over four months after receiving the PGA Distinguished Service Award. Allen said that Powell's legacy extends beyond being the only African-American to build, own, and operate a golf course.
"Whenever I speak about him, I think about what he went through in life to achieve his dream," said Allen. "His message was, 'Don't get bitter, get better.' That's not to say that he was never upset or frustrated. What he did was lead by example in a way that is so applicable to life. He did not let the tough moments stop him."
Allen, 43, began playing golf eight years ago, and received an impromptu lesson at Clearview from Powell while standing in the middle of the 10th fairway.
"I was having problems and he came by and offered to help," said Allen. "He asked to see my grip on the club. He gave me the tip and then disappeared. I remember that he was on a tractor at the time, and I guess he must have been hiding behind a tree. When I got to the 11th tee I was back to my old habits, and I heard this voice yelling at me, 'What good is my giving advice if you can't follow it?' I have never felt so good about getting scolded in my life."
Allen has a 13-year-old son, who is interested in golf and will make a pilgrimage to Clearview Golf Club this year.
"I look forward to bringing more students to Clearview, a piece of history that they did not know," said Allen. "Doing what Mr. Powell did opened doors for people like me. I would be remiss if I did not make a regular stop at Clearview. I try to do each day the most I can to live by the principles that guided Mr. Powell."
BLACK HISTORY MONTH also touches the life of PGA Professional Jeffrey Dunovant of Atlanta, whose father's image could easily find a niche among the honorees in The PGA's lobby. Images of Sifford, Elder and players like Pete Brown, Dunovant said, "were like surrogate fathers to me. My dad regularly had them over to our house. I remember standing outside the ropes and yelling as Pete Brown played in the Westchester Classic, 'There's Uncle Pete!' I was only 10 at the time, didn't know the rules, and caused a ruckus."
Dunovant's father, Harold, passed away in 2002 in Winston-Salem, N.C., but not before establishing a proud legacy of service to golf. Harold and Jeffrey are the only African American father-son combination in PGA of America membership history. Harold founded the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in 1986 and was recipient of the 1999 Carolinas PGA Junior Golf Leader.
Jeffrey, 47, is the PGA director of instruction for The First Tee of East Lake, and will receive his second career PGA Junior Golf Leader Award next month, this time by the Georgia PGA Section. He was the 2002 Southwest PGA Junior Golf Leader recipient.
"People often asked about what, if any, progress there is for minorities in golf," said Dunovant. "There is progress, however slow, but there is progress. I see a lot of success stories that many don't hear about."
One constant example of progress for minorities, Dunovant said, is channeled through the East Lake Foundation. The golf program in schools exposes golf to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students.
"We have a captive audience, and I can tell you that both life and golf skills are in front of these kids throughout their six years with us," said Dunovant. "By the time they get to junior high or high school, they can say that they do know something about golf.
"My dad began the National Black Golf Hall of Fame as a grass roots effort, a Hall of Fame without a permanent facility and looking for a home. Dad inducted 15 into the Hall the first year and 13 in the next class," said Dunovant. "He said that was his way of trying to catch up."