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Renee Powell

Photo courtesy of: Patton College of Education

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Patton College of Education to host former African-American pro golfer

Location of lecture changed to Baker Center Ballroom

Professional golfer and educator Renee Powell is one of only six African American women to ever play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the first woman of color to be elected to membership in the PGA of America.

A former member of the Ohio University women’s golf team, Powell will return to Athens to speak about her experiences on and off the golf course as part of lecture series organized by The Patton College of Education’s Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4 at Baker University Center Ballroom A. This event is free and open to the public.

Powell is the daughter of the late William Powell, the only African American to design, build, own, and operate a golf course in the U.S. Introduced to golf and coached by her father, a PGA Life Member and the 2009 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient, Powell began playing golf at age 3. She entered her first amateur tournament at age 12 and won her division. Three years later, she had 30 youth tournament trophies.

Powell graduated from Central Catholic High School in Canton in 1964 and attended Ohio University, serving as captain of the women’s golf team during the height of the Black Civil Rights Movement.

She made her professional debut on the LPGA Tour in 1967, and her first tournament was the U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the United States Golf Association. She competed in 250 professional golf tournaments and won the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia, posting a final-round 67 to set a course record.

Powell was chosen to represent the United States in the U.S. vs. Japan Team Matches on four separate occasions during the 1970s. Team members include other notables such as Kathy Whitworth, Carol Mann, Pat Bradley, Sandra Post, Donna Caponi-Byrnes, and Susie Berning. In each of Powell’s four matches, her team won.

Powell was invited to participate in King Hassan’s Tournament in Morocco and was the only American golf professional to play in President Jawara’s Tournament in The Gambia. President Kaunda of Zambia personally invited Powell to play with him at the State House Golf Course, the first woman golfer to do so.

During the 1970s, Powell was part of the USO Tour to Vietnam. Joined by her friend, Mary Lou Daniel, and one-armed trick-shot artist, Jimmy Nichols, they gave golf clinics in hopes of bringing “a little bit of home” to our troops abroad.

In 1979, Powell made history by becoming the first woman to be named Head Professional at a golf course in the United Kingdom. The course was Silvermere, near London. At that same time, she made another piece of history in England by competing with men in a professional event from the same set of tees.

While in England, Powell began designing and promoting golf, tennis, and jogging clothes for McCarthy Sports of London. Harrod’s of London was the first store to purchase the line and did a front window display of her design. She also wrote instructional articles for Par Golf Magazine.

In 1980, Powell finished her tour career and taught golf in Africa and Europe and later returned home to Canton where she currently serves as the head professional golfer at Clearview Golf Club. In 2001, Clearview Golf Club was named to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Powell estimates that she has made 25 trips to Africa, serving as a goodwill ambassador of the game of golf.

In 2011, Powell founded Clearview HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), which is the sole year-round women’s military rehabilitative golf program in the country. The chapter serves nearly 60 female veterans from throughout Northern Ohio.

In 2003, Powell was the recipient of the PGA First Lady of Golf Award. In founding Clearview HOPE, with nearly 60 members as of October 2013, Powell entered a new chapter in giving back to the game of golf. Clearview HOPE, an outgrowth of PGA HOPE, is sanctioned by both The PGA of America and the Veterans Administration. It features both golf instruction and events that evolved into a year-round social group. Clearview HOPE reaches out to assist and support veterans who are in need that have yet to become participants in the program.