As I was thumbing through the New York times, I came across the obit section and the headline “Bill Powell, 93, Who Faced Racism With a Golf Course” caught my eye.
In reading the obituary, I was amazed to read about this man, who I had never heard of before and his love of golf. Powell was an amazing guy and certainly loved the game of golf. He died last week in Ohio after being “shunned” from the sport that he loved for more than 60 years.
According to the P.G.A, Powell was the only African-american to build, own and operate a golf course in the United States. Can that be right? What year is it again? What stunned me ever more was that Powell built his course a year before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier and did it in an era, according to the obituary when the P.G.A.’s own bylaws prohibited nonwhites from membership.
Powell got financial help from two black physicians and a loan from a brother and bought a parcel of land. He opened a 9 hole course, then expanded to 18 later on. Clearview Golf Club of course welcomed golfers of all races. The P.G.A. should have been paying Powell for advice, even then.
I’m thrilled I stumbled on to this obituary, it’s a good reminder of the challenges we (human beings, not just one race or another) face and a better reminder of what it takes to accomplish your own goals in life. If I ever get to East Canton, Ohio, I guarantee I’ll stop by Clearview Golf Club to play a round and say hello.
RIP Bill Powell.