Recent calls for social justice, especially Black Lives Matter and discussions of gender equality, have struck a chord with Cheyenne Woods. When she earned her LPGA Tour Membership in 2015, she became the sixth Black player in Tour history. Following the death of George Floyd, Woods used her platform as an elite athlete to speak on her experiences as a minority in the game of golf, including a poignant discussion with Golf Channel's Damon Hack.
“The history is there is not many of us,” said Woods from the Marathon LPGA Classic on Wednesday. “I think it's important to make that public and allow people to know how important it is to have representation out here and how much we do – how much room we do have to grow as a Tour, as a game.”
Few people get to meet the pioneers who opened the door for them to live their dreams. Woods is one of those lucky few who can honestly say that her trailblazer is also her friend. In 1967, Renee Powell became the second Black player in LPGA Tour history, opening the door for Woods and other Black golfers to compete at the highest level. Woods smiled when speaking of Powell and called her almost a big sister, despite the nearly 45-year age difference.
“I'm thankful to have had Renee come before me and hear her stories, her experiences, what she's learned,” said Woods, who speaks with Powell often and plays in her annual pro-am at Clearview Golf Club in Canton, Ohio. “Hopefully (I) can now do that for the girls coming after us.”
Woods is a long-time supporter and alumna of the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program, and recently participated in Race for Unity. The event, which included participants from across the golf industry, raised funds for the Renee Powell Grant, which will provide need-based grants to Girls Golf programs that are inclusive of Black communities as part of their initiatives. The first five recipients, all located in Powell’s home state of Ohio, are proof positive that the efforts from Powell, Woods, Mariah Stackhouse, Althea Gibson and other Black athletes will not be in vain.