PGA/LPGA Professional Renee Powell of East Canton, Ohio, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree, Dec. 17, by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Powell, the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf, was honored at winter commencement exercises for her pioneering spirit and accomplishments as a sportswoman and philanthropist.
PGA/LPGA Professional Renee Powell receives second Honorary Doctorate
Powell, 64, is the PGA head professional at Clearview Golf Club in East Canon, and the second African-American woman to compete on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.
"UMES was one of the colleges I visited on my own in the 1980s as I conducted golf clinics and programs promoting the game of golf," said Powell. "Little did I know that I would be walking down the aisle and on to the stage 20 years later to receive an honorary degree.
"It is an honor to receive this honorary degree and especially at the first historically black college to be awarded a PGA Professional Golf Management program, and as the first African-American female PGA member. Opening doors and guiding others through is an important part of life."
At age three, Powell picked up a golf club her father, the late William Powell, had cut down to fit her tiny hands. She entered her first tournament at age 12 and won her division. It was a sign of things to come. She went on to play golf at Ohio University and The Ohio State University, serving as captain of the women's golf team at each institution.
Powell made her debut on the LPGA tour in 1967 and competed in 250 professional golf tournaments. She won the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia.
In the early 1970s, Powell began what would become a lifetime of goodwill missions on behalf of golf, visiting the U.S. troops in Vietnam as part of a USO tour. In 1979, she made history when she became the first woman to be named head professional at a golf course in the United Kingdom.
Powell finished her LPGA career in 1980 and taught golf to both heads of state and the general public in Africa and Europe. She eventually returned home to the Canton area, where she currently serves as the head professional at Clearview, where she learned the game. In 2001, Clearview – the course her father, William, built from scratch – was named to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Also in 2001, the Powell family established the Clearview Legacy Foundation to promote education, preserve the golf course for future generations, develop improved facilities for teaching golf and expand turfgrass research.
The following outlines some of Powell's career accomplishments, which led UMES, an 1880s land-grant institution, to recognize her with the honorary degree:
1989 - Inductee, Ohio Women's Hall of Fame
1990 – Recipient, Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award
1992 - National Golf Foundation/Jack Nicklaus Golf Family of the Year
2007 - William and Renee Powell, inductees, Ohio Golf Hall of Fame; Rolex for the Love of the Game Award
2008 - Honorary Doctor of Law degree – St. Andrews University, Scotland
2010 - Top Female Teaching Professionals, Golf Digest; Honorary Doctor of Public Service – University of Maryland Eastern Shore
UMES is the nation's only historically black institution with a professional golf management program where 43 students currently are pursuing their studies. The program's charter class is scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2012.
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