Monday, April 6, 2009

Where are the black golfers in professional golf?

Video Link:
Yesterday I did an interview with Bob Ley on ESPN’s Outside The Lines concerning Tiger Woods and the development of black golfers in professional golf. After the interview I received a wide range of responses. They ranged from praise to anger and frustration. So I decided to add an entry on my blog to clarify my position.

The simple fact is that the number of black golfers on the PGA and LPGA Tours had declined drastically over the past 40 years. Today Tiger Woods is the only black golfer on the PGA Tour and there are no black women on the LPGA tour at all. 40 years ago there we at least 15 black golfer on the professional circuit. So that begs the question where did the black golfers go and why hasn’t anyone followed Tiger?

As I stated in the interview, it’s an issue of access and resources. It takes money to play and stay out on tour, somewhere in the range of $100,000 a year for a player to compete on the professional level. Even the PGA Tour qualifying school costs $5,000 to enter. Furthermore, you won’t make it out on tour practicing and taking instruction at your local municipal golf course. Specialized training, instruction and equipment are essential for a golfer that is looking to get out on tour. So the argument of get some clubs practice and qualify is a bit short sighted.

I got several responses stating why are black golfers asking for a handout and that the tour lower their standards so they can play? I immediately asked myself what interview did these people watch? I don’t think anyone on the panel suggested that the PGA Tour lower their standards so that black golfers can play on tour. Nor did anyone suggest that black golfers receive any type of freebies or handouts. I simply stated the black golfers need resources and access. In other words, let in the room so I get the opportunity to compete. Help me get the tools I need to qualify. Then my clubs will have to do the talking.

For example, The Leadbetter Academy in Florida that produced Michelle Wie and Charles Howell III and other professional golfers has an elementary school, high school and college campus on site. The kids there go to school from 8 to 12 and then work with their swing coaches, Video analysis, physical trainers and mental coaches for the rest of the day, everyday. The are also backed by IMG and Callaway golf. So they play with the best equipment tailor made for them and they practice and play on the best golf courses. By the way if you want your child to attend the Leadbetter academy, it will set you back $1,700 a week. Not cheap. But that level of instruction is required to get out on tour.

Tiger Woods doesn’t owe black golfers anything. He is not obligated to help a single black player get out on tour. The only thing he is required to do is play golf be a good husband, father, golfer and be a positive role model. So far he has done a wonderful job in all of these areas. However, Tiger has a platform to affect change and if he decided to reach back all he has to do is make a phone call and he could really help some up and coming black golfer get the resources, training and access they need.
But again that has to be something Tiger chooses to do. He shouldn’t be and can’t be forced to do anything he doesn’t believe in. Tiger stated clearly that his foundation was not created to produce professional golfers. The Tiger Woods Foundation was created to produce good citizens and it seems to be working.

Let’s face it as long as Tiger is on tour this discussion will continue and the fact that neither Tiger nor PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem would speak publicly about this issue speaks volumes. Clearly it’s an issue the golf industry is reluctant to address or speak about.
I would love to see more faces like mine out on tour. It thinks it’s amazing that when I look at the President of the United States and he looks like me but when I watch a PGA Tour event, I don’t see anyone that looks like me unless Tiger is playing.
"Keep it in the short grass"
Edward S. Wanambwa


  1. Black golfers have been enjoying the game of golf since the 1800's. The Neckbone Circuit concept was created to bring awareness to the little known accomplishments of yesteryear's African-American atheletes. Neckbone Circuit Urban Golf Clothing is based on fact, courage, and perseverance. From the 1800's to the present the African-American athelete has been a vital part of the history of the world of sports.

  2. There are some young black golfers coming up that are very good. It takes a lot of effort, sacrifice, dedication, talent, skill, desire and money to become a pro golfer. Trying to work and play golf with the hope of becoming a pro golfer will not happen. Golf unlike other sports requires total committment. Black college golfers playing in the SWAC HBCU colleges don't play or practice on the the best golf courses, with the exception of Jackson state in Mississippi. However, when you see how they perform on the NCAA div 1 stage, it still leaves doubts. American golfers need all the help we can get because other countries are producing far more better golfers than Americans. The LPGA is an example of what the PGA will soon look like unless better American golfers are produced. I believe there is a black golfer in America that is better than Tiger. He just needs to believe that he is.

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