Golf pioneer great dies

bill powell golfer
Bill Powell (pic from AP)

Today, we take a lot of things for granted. Back in the 1970s it was unusual to have more than one TV in the house. Most people only had one car. My father, a family practitioner, took off every Wednesday. For a time, he played golf on his day off. The simple game of golf itself has reflected the great change that we’ve undergone in the last 30 years. The clubs are lighter and more flexible. The balls are more compact; therefore, they can be hit harder and go farther. It is taken for granted that Tiger Woods can play anywhere in the world.

Bill Powell is not a household name. I’d never heard of him until today. He died at the age of 93 of complications from a stroke. He was the first Black man to build, own and operate a golf course in the United States, a course in Clearview, Ohio. The course was built in 1948. His life was chronicled in his autobiography, which I did not know about until today, Clearview: America’s Course. I look forward to reading his autobiography. My condolences go out to his family and friends. I wish I could’ve met him.

From AP:

“Bill Powell will forever be one of golf’s most unforgettable American heroes,” PGA of America president Jim Remy said. “Bill made us appreciate the game and each other that much more by his gentle, yet firm example.

“He was born with a fire within his heart to build on his dream. In the process, he made golf a beacon for people of all color. The PGA of America is better today because of individuals like Bill Powell. We will miss him dearly. We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family as we remember a wonderful man.”

In August, Powell received the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest annual honor. In November, he was inducted into the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame and honored as the Person of the Year by the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association.

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce also recently presented the Powell family with its Community Salute Award.

“My father made a mark,” said daughter Renee Powell, the second black player to compete on the LPGA Tour. “And, I believe that God wanted people to know the mark that he made on this nation.” (more… )

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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