First African American To Launch His Own Inclusive Golf Course For All People
For this black entrepreneur, a few bursts of passion led him straight into the hole to run his own establishment.
The late Bill Powell was an African American businessman who designed the Clearview Golf Club, the first integrated golf course for African Americans.
The pioneering golf course owner discovered his passion for golf when he was nine years old. Upon returning from World War II duty, the Army veteran decided to play golf on public land, but was turned down because he was black.
The refusal to exercise his passion for golf, due to racial segregation, inspired the pioneer to create his own golf course where golfers of all colors would be welcome.
In a 2010 interview with The New York Times, Powell discussed his plans for creating the golf course.
“It’s nasty when you’re turned down,” Powell said. “You have a little pride. You tell them to hell. You say I won’t harass. I’m not going to beg them. So I said I would just build a golf course.
According to reports, the entrepreneur was turned down on his first attempt to secure a bank loan to kick-start his plans for the golf course. However, racial segregation was not going to prevent him from achieving his goal, and he solidified the financial support of two black doctors in addition to a loan from a brother.
“I didn’t want other people who wanted to play golf to have to go through the indignities that I went through,” Powell said in an acceptance speech, according to The New York Times.
Powell was able to purchase 78 acres of land and he went to work alongside his wife, Marcella, building the course by hand.
The Clearview Golf Course, which officially opened in April 1948, featured nine holes and several fence posts.
Despite vandalism and encountering people angry at the establishment, the golf course remained open, eventually expanding to 130 acres with 18 holes in 1978, becoming a national landmark in 2001.
In 2009, Powell received the PGA Distinguished Service Award from the Professional Golfers Association.
Powell died at the age of 93 and the golf course is still in operation, managed by Larry and Renee Powell.