An African American golfer with strong links to St Andrews is to be honoured by the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Renee Powell – the second African American woman ever to compete on the LPGA Tour – is to be the inaugural recipient of the Charlie Sifford Award, which will honour recipients for their spirit in advancing diversity in golf.
Named after Charlie Sifford – the first African American to play on the PGA tour – the award honours an individual who personifies Sifford’s ground-breaking achievements through perseverance, confidence, respect and adaptability.
Powell, who is the great granddaughter of Alabama slaves, has demonstrated resilience amidst her own obstacles of racial adversity and segregation and has dedicated her life to making golf a sport for all.
Speaking about the award, which will be presented as part of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony in Florida on March 9, 2022, Powell, who, like Sifford, was awarded an honorary degree by St Andrews University more than a decade ago, said she was “honoured”.
“As a youngster my parents fought to get me into tournaments when I was not welcomed because of the colour of my skin, which instilled in me how important it is to get young people into the game to help build their self-confidence,” she said.
“I’m honoured to be the first recipient of this award and to see Charlie Sifford be recognized for breaking down barriers that never should have been put in front of him and all others of colour who strived to play this game.
“I was taught early on by my parents that golf should be a sport for everyone, and we can all diversify this game in so many ways.”
St Andrews honours
Powell, who was one of the first seven women to be nominated for honorary membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 2015, and had a St Andrews University hall of residence named after her in 2018, competed in more than 250 professional tournaments during her career and played as a member of the LPGA Tour from 1967 to 1980.
Since 1995, she has served as the head PGA/LPGA professional at Clearview Golf Club (Ohio), which her father – William Powell – established in 1946 as the first U.S. golf course designed, built, owned and operated by an African American.
The club’s non-profit Clearview Legacy Foundation focuses on education, preservation, and research, utilizing golf as a tool to reach everyone, with an emphasis on youth, minorities, veterans, seniors and other underrepresented groups.
Although Sifford turned professional in 1948, he was excluded from the PGA TOUR until 1961, when he became the first African American to compete as a member.
Despite the injustice of having some of his best years behind him, Sifford won the Travelers Championship (1967) and Genesis Invitational (1969) and finished in the top-60 on the money list in his first nine years on tour.
In 2004, Sifford was inducted into the Hall of Fame in recognition of his historic contributions in breaking barriers for generations of minority golfers who would follow in his footsteps, including Tiger Woods, 2022 Hall of Fame inductee.
Sifford also was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014) prior to his passing in 2015.