At Cedar Crest in Dallas, Golf Changes Lives Thanks to Ira Molayo, PGA
Ira Molayo was introduced to golf when he was seven by his mother at Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. He loved to play in the bunkers and splash in the creek beds while his mother teed it up with her friends. Today, 40 years later, he is a PGA of America Golf Professional, Director of Golf at Cedar Crest and the newly elected Vice President of the Northern Texas PGA Section (NTPGA). His focus on and off the course has remained the same, too. At the heart of everything Molayo does, is inclusion. On the course, he’s helping youth in South Dallas learn to play golf, work in golf and earn scholarships to receive higher education. Off the course, he’s the first Black PGA of America Golf Professional to serve as an Officer for the NTPGA. He’s in line to become President in 2026. Molayo’s I AM a Golfer Foundation, was established out of necessity in 2018 to be a catalyst for community renewal and transformation in South Dallas. In 2015, Cedar Crest had the largest First Tee program in Dallas, working with junior golfers six days a week. Then the First Tee program was moved to nearby Trinity Forest Golf Club, leaving juniors wanting to stay at Cedar Crest in need of help. “I had kids who could afford to pay for golf instruction and I had a group of kids who couldn’t," says Molayo. "I would always use the First Tee program to introduce golf to them. When that didn’t exist, I did not have a way to engage those youth.” Molayo took action to create the foundation — its name comes from the power of positive affirmations — to provide lessons, clubs and access for those who couldn’t afford golf. It’s grown exponentially ever since. “Everyone needs to understand that you can be whatever your mind’s eye sees you to be,” Molayo says. Besides teaching, the I AM a Golfer Foundation helps preserve Cedar Crest and promotes the game through events like the Dallas Amateur Championship and the Southwest Airlines Showcase at Cedar Crest — a Black collegiate tournament that was televised on Golf Channel last fall. The Foundation’s youth programs have three pillars: I AM a Golfer, I AM an Intern and I AM a Scholar. Molayo realized he was losing youth at the golf course once they turned 15 because they needed to help their families financially, so he created paid internship opportunities in golf operations, community development, marketing and more. When kids started graduating high school and looking to college, they needed help, so he started a scholarship program. “We have a holistic way to have kids come in our program at seven and stay in our program until they are 24,” Molayo notes. “Now I'm not just your golf coach, I'm your mentor, providing guidance to you. It’s a deeper relationship.” “One of the benefits of golf is that it opens doors and provides opportunities for you," Molayo notes. "Specifically for those coming from a historically underrepresented group, it really provides a feather in your cap, a way to stand out.” Molayo started getting more involved in the NTPGA in 2013. He joined the teaching & coaching committee, which led to his involvement in the junior golf, education, awards and PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) committees. “When I got on committees and started working with other PGA of America Members, it made the sport bigger in my head,” Molayo says. “It wasn’t just me and my facility, it was other talented people trying to do the same thing, all because we love golf.” When he ran for NTPGA Secretary in 2016, he lost. “I was shocked I lost, because I don’t like losing,” he remembers. “When I lost, it was really a good thing because it made me realize that I do love it. I wasn’t doing it because I wanted notoriety, I really enjoyed serving and felt like I had something to contribute.” After serving three terms as an At-Large Director and working on various committees, Molayo ran again in 2022 and won. After two years as Secretary, he was elected Vice President on February 5 during the NTPGA Annual Meeting. “Those are telling moments in my life. The membership electing me means they see me as an equal. They see me, period. In golf, that hasn’t always been the case," says Molayo. "To elect me and give me the opportunity to be a steward in this position, makes me feel included.” Molayo’s inclusion efforts will continue and the game will be a better place for many because of them.