Renee Powell followed her father's footsteps in becoming a golf pioneer.
Thursday, Powell -- the PGA Head Professional at Clearview Golf Club -- followed in his footsteps once again when she was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame.
"To be inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame alongside my father is extremely special as he was my only instructor over these many years," Powell said in a statement released by the PGA. "He and my mother would be so proud. I think of all the barriers I have been able to break not only as an African-American, but also as a woman, and the doors I have been able to open because of what my family has taught me about perseverance and believing that anything is possible with a positive attitude and belief in oneself."
The PGA announced a seven-person class, which also includes golf legend Gary Player. The 2017 class will be honored Nov. 2, at the PGA's 101st Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. The rest of the class features Mickey Wright, Lew Worsham, Michael Schultz, Joe Tesori and the late George Henry Schneiter.
Powell is regarded as one of America's foremost educators and ambassadors of the game of golf. Powell was the second African-American woman to compete on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour. She is the first black woman to be elected to membership in the PGA of America (1996), and in 2015, was one of seven women to be named as Honorary Members of the 260-year-old Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Thursday's honor, though, is extra special.
"In thinking of all the professional golfers there have been over the many years and then to think that I am one of only 170 honored in the PGA Hall of Fame," she said. "It is such an incredible honor but also very humbling."
Born in Canton, Powell was introduced to golf and coached by her late father, William, the only African-American to design, build, own, and operate a golf course (Clearview) in the United States. He is a 2013 inductee into the PGA of America Hall of Fame. She graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1964, and attended Ohio University and Ohio State University, serving as captain of the women's golf team at each institution.
When Powell turned professional in 1967, her first competition was the U.S. Women's Open. She went on to compete in 250 professional events and won the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia.
As a global golf ambassador, Powell's travels to promote the game spanned a USO Tour to Vietnam during the peak of the war in the 1970s; clinics in Japan, Australia, Morocco, Spain and England; and 25 trips to Africa to educate both heads of state and the general public about the life values of golf. Closer to home, Powell serves on the board of directors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is a member of the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame.
Powell's trailblazing endeavors include being the first woman to be named Head Professional at a golf course in the United Kingdom -- in 1979 at Silvermere, an hour southwest of London. She also was the first woman in the U.K. to compete with men in a professional event from the same set of tees.
Following her professional playing career, Powell returned to Clearview Golf Club, where she blends golf instruction and community service. Among her multiple outreach initiatives was founding the Renee Powell Youth Golf Cadre program in 1995, to benefit middle school and high school students in Cleveland. That became the pilot program for the PGA initiative to reach inner-city youth, which eventually became the Urban Youth Golf Program in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 2003, Powell was named the PGA First Lady of Golf for significant contributions to the promotion of the game of golf. In 2008, she was bestowed with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. Andrews University in Scotland, the first woman golfer so honored in the 600-year history of the renowned Scottish institution.
The daughter of a World War II Veteran, Powell continued her family's support of American military heroes by founding Clearview HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) in 2011. Today, serving 60 female veterans from throughout Northern Ohio, Clearview HOPE is the country's only year-round women's military rehabilitative golf program.
To help earn his spot in the Class of 2017, Player won 168 professional events worldwide, winning in 15 countries. He won at least one event in 27 consecutive years. In 1965, at age 29, he became the third to complete golf's career Grand Slam. Today, he is one of only five to do so. With nine major championships on the PGA Tour and nine majors on the PGA Tour Champions, Player was the first player to complete the Grand Slam on both tours.
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