Golf has long been difficult to access for colored communities. The barriers varied from racist racist practices at member clubs to more systemic issues regarding the location of courses or even the cost of equipment.
Howard University, one of the most prestigious historically black colleges in the United States, seeks to increase opportunities for black players and announces Monday the first Division I golf program for men and women, as first reported by the Washington Post. The program is sponsored by the N.B.A. star Stephen Curry, a golf enthusiast who has committed to help finance the program for at least six years, starting with the 2020-21 season.
"Today is clearly a historic opportunity for not just Howard, but I think everyone's historically black colleges and universities," said Dr. Wayne AI Frederick, president of Howard University, at a press conference on the Langston Gulf Course in Washington, DC The course was named after John Mercer Langston, the first African-American elected to Congress in 1890, as well as the first dean of Howard University & # 39; s law school.
"This is a way for students who would otherwise have no chance to visit Howard University to use the golf game to participate in it, "said Frederick.
The university previously had a Division II team that had at least five decades was old, as well as intramural golf program & # 39; s. The resurrection of the program in Howard was the result of a chance meeting Curry had with a student during a screening on campus in January of the docu mentary & # 39; Emanuel & # 39 ;, at the massive shooting in 2015 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC Curry was the film's executive producer.
After the screening, the student approached Otis Ferguson Curry, known as an avid golfer, to discuss efforts to make the sport more mainstream on campus. Curry told that conversation on Monday during the press conference and chose Ferguson, an incoming senior who stood up, accepted an ovation from the crowd.
"We are connected on golf and in terms of our passion for the game," said Curry. "I think I can speak for you," referring to Ferguson, "about what the game has taught us both in terms of who we are, things that Dr. Frederick also said, about accountability, competition, discipline. All those different ideas I learned from the golf game. ”
Curry and Howard did not disclose how much money he would give to the program, but the Post reported that it would be in the seven digits. Frederick slanted to the state of the many heated political debates that dominate the news headlines.
"We are in a very interesting time in our country and the history of our country," said Frederick. "There is no doubt about that about. There is a lot for us to be cynical about. A lot for us to be disappointed by, especially in terms of the rhetoric. But one of the things that I think we all need to make sure we all double is investing in the people who invest in us. "
" Sir. Curry represents what's great about America, & said Frederick.
According to the N.C.A.A. about 6 percent of collegiate golfers are black, Latin American or American American. Despite the influence of Tiger Woods and an overall increase in the number of people starting the game, neither has translated into a significant increase in the number of minorities playing. According to the National Golf Foundation, 2.6 million people played for the first time in 2018, the fourth consecutive annual increase. Of the beginners, 26 percent identified as & # 39; non-Caucasian & # 39 ;, partly attributed to growth among Asian participants. Between 2007 and 2018, the total number of African-American players decreased from 1.5 million to 800,000.
With the help of Curry, Howard hopes that those numbers will change.
"Otis has talked about speaking things into existence, not knowing whether it's going to happen or not," said Curry. "There's a lesson in that, so thank you for doing that. This goes way beyond the golf game."