Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Mar. 25, 2003
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- PGA Professional Renee Powell, the second African-American woman to compete on the LPGA Tour and who went on to dedicate her career to introducing golf and life skills to the underprivileged from Africa to her hometown of East Canton, Ohio, has been named recipient of the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf Award.
Powell will be honored June 4, in a 7 p.m. ceremony at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pa. The ceremony is in conjunction with 64th Senior PGA Championship week, June 2-8, at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa.
The second oldest of three children of William Powell, Renee was introduced to golf at age three by her father, who in 1948 opened Clearview Golf Course in East Canton -- the first course completely designed and built by an African-American.
Powell began her competitive career at age 12, and later competed at Ohio University for two years before transferring to Ohio State University, where she served as captain of the women's golf team. Powell made her professional debut in 1967 at the U.S. Women's Open in Hot Springs, Va.
She competed on the LPGA Tour from 1967 to 1980, living in England and spending her off-course time as a clothes designer. Powell served one year (1980) as head professional at a course outside of London before moving back to the United States. Powell then began contacting embassies and companies to get involved in programs where she could travel to Africa and teach golf to indigenous citizens of all ages in Africa.
Powell gained government contacts through African embassies in the U.S. and began her mission to teach golf on the African continent. She returned to the U.S. in 1988, working to build inner-city youth programs in Cleveland and to establish a network of celebrity and pro-am charity events, and to tour historically black colleges where she helped attract new players to the game.
"Renee Powell is a member of one of the great families of golf in our country, whose life's work has been to open the doors to many who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to pick up a golf club and find enjoyment in their lives," said PGA of America President M.G. Orender. "Renee's tireless efforts to build opportunities for young people in golf have elevated her among her peers and we are most proud to present the PGA First Lady of Golf Award."
Powell was elected to PGA membership in 1996, a year after she established the Renee Powell Youth Golf Camp Cadre Program, designed to provide inner-city youth with an opportunity to learn and play the game of golf.
In 1999, Powell was named an honorary member of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Division. She also has served as development and programming consultant for The First Tee Program and in 2000, began the LPGA Girls Golf Club in East Canton. In 2001, Clearview Golf Course was listed among the National Register of Historic Places.
"I am flattered and so honored to have been selected for this award," said Powell. "To be recognized by those in the golf industry in this manner is the icing on the cake. Golf has been my entire life, and my family has been my inspiration. Golf is what I do; it is who I am. "
The PGA First Lady of Golf Award, inaugurated in 1998, is presented to a woman who has made significant contributions to the promotion of the game of golf. Past recipients include Barbara Nicklaus, Judy Rankin, Judy Bell and Nancy Lopez.