The school buses pulled in a few minutes before 3:00 on Monday afternoon. By that time, a team of nine LPGA Tour players had already participated in the morning wave of the Renee Powell Clearview Legacy Benefit at Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta. Those in attendance included Mariah Stackhouse, Mo Martin, Tiffany Joh, Jane Park, Maria Fassi, Leona Maguire, Brianna Do, Lauren Kim, Emma Talley and Caroline Inglis. And the buses carried more than 100 young kids to a clinic sponsored by PGA REACH.
This was no ordinary pro-am and not because of the format. Pros went out for a series of skills challenges to benefit the Clearview Legacy Foundation, a charity designed to continue the legacy of Renee’s father Bill Powell and the course he built by hand in the family’s home state of Ohio.
“I turned pro on June 28th of 1967, so this date is the 54th anniversary of me turning pro and this year is the 75th anniversary of my father building Clearview Golf Club, so this is a special time,” Powell said. “My dad built the first 9 holes at Clearview literally by hand with a shovel and a seed bag around his neck. He had just come back from Great Britain after the war. He could play golf over there. Every town had a golf course and he felt very welcome. But to his surprise he realized that not too much had changed at home and he wasn’t welcome at golf clubs in Ohio. So, he built his own course where everyone was welcome regardless of race or gender, where you were from or what you did.
“My father wanted everyone to be treated equally in the game.”
The LPGA further engaged by donating proceeds from the LPGA #HoodieForGolf to the Clearview Legacy Foundation.
“At the core of the LPGA is a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Roberta Bowman, the LPGA’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer, as well as co-chair of the LPGA’s DE&I task force. “Renee Powell and her family play a singular role in the history of African Americans in golf. Renee is a global ambassador for the game and continues to use golf as a means for inclusion. We are proud to be part of this effort to celebrate Renee and her family and preserve Clearview Golf Club and its mission of providing a place where all people can enjoy the game.”
Players are asked to participate in numerous Monday pro-ams throughout the year. But few touch the heart of the LPGA mission like the one in Atlanta on Monday.
“Growing up as an Asian American in the early 90s, I know what it’s like to be different on the golf course,” Tiffany Joh said. “That’s why events like this and people like Renee Powell are so inspiring and so important. We have come such a long, long way in the game but events like this are reminders that we need to keep moving forward.”
As the kids sprinted to the driving range at Bobby Jones GC, some carrying their own clubs, others hoping to pick some up during the clinic, Ryan Cannon, the Senior Director of PGA REACH said, “We are excited to support this youth clinic, this event overall and to continue the legacy of Renee Powell. As a PGA of America member, Renee remains an icon and critical figure in the game and we are proud and privileged to have her as a member of the PGA.”
“I had the pleasure of meeting Renee for the first time yesterday and had dinner with her last night,” said incoming LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “Her story is truly remarkable. She is such a pioneer. She changed golf and continues to change golf through her foundation. She is working day in and day out to provide opportunities. The LPGA wants to do the same thing. We want to introduce the game to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity. And we want to change their lives through the game.”
This event would not have taken place without the generous support of sponsors, including KPMG and their continued commitment to women’s golf and diversity. “When we first heard about the Clearview Legacy Foundation and the need that was there, we were so inspired to get involved,” said Shawn Quill, the National Sports Industry Leader for KPMG US. “Along with Mariah Stackhouse and the LPGA, we came together and, hopefully, will be a catalyst for change that is needed to not only preserve this historical landmark but to ensure that there is more awareness around the need to cultivate diversity in the game of golf and overall.”
Stackhouse has long been a brand ambassador for KPMG. But she has known about Clearview and the Powells for much longer.
“My parents were very intentional about teaching me the history of the game and about pioneers like Bill Powell and Renee Powell and what they did to advance the game, not just for minority golfers but for everyone,” Stackhouse said. “I think that events like this can be part of a vehicle for change. Clearview Golf Course and what it stands for in breaking barriers and bringing all people together through the game of golf, that’s what we hope will continue. That’s why we’re here today.”
After the event on Monday in Atlanta, Powell was in tears as she received a check for more than $200,000 on behalf of the foundation.“The next 75 years, the message of Clearview is to continue to bring people together through golf,” Powell said. “The game doesn’t discriminate. The ball doesn’t know your race. If you hit it good you play well and if you don’t, well, you have to live with the consequences. My father thought there was a life lesson there. And we continue that message at Clearview today.”