Golf News July 24 2022: Growing the Game

Golf News July 24 2022

In golf news this week are three items that struck me as — in one way or another — examples of growing the game of golf.

First, the LPGA Foundation announced thirteen Renee Powell Grants of $30k each to increase opportunities for Black girls in golf. The money will help provide access, instruction, equipment and to cover additional expenses.

I think that is very important work.

Meanwhile, the World Golf Hall of Fame is relocating to Pinehurst, where it will team with the USGA’s Golf House museum to create a new “visitor experience” surrounding golf’s rich history. The new location in my mind will be able to bring golf history to a broader audience. As I found in my golf trip to Pinehurst last year, the place exudes golf history.

I can imagine only good things coming from growing an appreciation from golf’s history.

Finally, the PGA of America has teamed with Elysian Park Ventures to created EP Golf Ventures, LLC, a new investment partnership designed to support innovation in the golf industry.  The collaboration will focus on coaching and training; health, wellness and performance science; hospitality; facility management; retail; and agriculture. 

Elysian Park Ventures, the private investment arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group, holds a vast portfolio of some of the most promising brands and companies operating in sports technology, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness.

The partnership has already invested in Sportsbox AI, an AI-powered technology company that develops coaching applications through markerless 3D motion capture; and Dryvebox, which was built to increase golf access to all through a mobile golf simulator that offers lessons, practice sessions, virtual golf and private events. 

Lots of folk — including some high end antitrust lawyers get the PGA and PGA TOUR confused (here is the difference between the PGA and PGA TOUR). To be clear, the PGA represents some 28,000 PGA Professionals who are involved in golf operations, teaching and coaching and executive management related to golf. These PGA Professionals are the men and women who you see every day at the course, working hard to make your golf life as enjoyable as possible.

I see one or both of Washtenaw Golf Club‘s PGA Professionals, Zach Szawara and Matt Okopny — or its owner, PGA Professional Dave Kendall — nearly every time I go to play. I am convinced that PGA Professionals — not tour players or the USGA — are the heart and soul of golf.

In that vein, what the Elysian Park partnership is doing is finding ways to help the PGA Professionals help us. That can’t help but grow the game.

Press releases follow:

LPGA*USGA Girls Golf Sites Receive Funding to Grow the Game and Increase Opportunities for Black Girls

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Foundation announced today the next recipients of the Renee Powell Grant. The grant program honors Renee Powell’s lifelong commitment to golf and will help assist current and prospective LPGA*USGA Girls Golf sites create partnerships and outreach opportunities with youth organizations serving Black girls.

Sites were selected based on their geographic location, current LPGA*USGA Girls Golf membership demographics, and longstanding commitment to engaging Black girls in their program.

The 13 sites that will receive $30,000 in grant funding are:

  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Atlanta – Charlie Yates
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Mobile, AL at Azalea City Golf Course
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Conyers
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – A Perfect Swing of Charlotte
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Detroit East
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Houston at Hermann Park Golf Course
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – First Tee – Virginia Peninsula
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Doris Ross Reddick Elementary
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Southeast LA at SCGA Junior
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – First Tee – Greater Baltimore
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Greater Cleveland
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – First Tee – Central Ohio – Heritage Golf Club
  • LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – First Tee – Lake County

“For a long time, I was sort of a lone ranger out there,” said Renee Powell, the second African American woman to ever play on the LPGA Tour. “To see young girls now that love the game and look like me, that have great ambitions to continue to play and to eventually play on the LPGA Tour, it’s wonderful to see. They are so positive, which is good. They have goals, and they’re competing. I have never seen so many young girls of color that are playing the game and loving the game, so it makes me feel really good about it.”

Awarded through the LPGA Foundation and the LPGA Renee Powell Fund, grants provide access, instruction, equipment and additional expenses required to be introduced to the game of golf and stay engaged with the sport. Through this effort, the LPGA Foundation continues to further its commitment to creating an engaging, safe, inclusive and diverse environment to empower, inspire and transform the lives of all women and girls through the game of golf.

Thanks to efforts including the LPGA’s #HoodieForGolf, which raised over $390k for the Renee Powell Fund and Clearview Legacy Foundation, Renee Powell Grants continue to impact LPGA*USGA Girls Golf programs that serve Black communities. This year’s grants are also made possible with support from John Deere, helping to provide both equitable and inclusive opportunities to women and young females. In addition to grant funding, John Deere will sponsor a behind-the-scenes experience at the 2022 Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G, hosted at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Renee Powell Grant funds are directed towards financial aid for Girls Golf members community outreach, partnerships with local youth groups, securing golf course access, transportation to/from the golf course or facility, to increase staffing, and purchase of equipment. Along with the grant funding, the LPGA will provide access to the LPGA’s cultural sensitivity training, assist with connecting the Site Director with a local youth organization serving Black girls, along with branded items and giveaways for the Girls Golf Experience, lesson plans for the program, and at least one LPGA HQ representative to assist with Girls Golf Experience event planning.

Operated in partnership by the LPGA Foundation and the United States Golf Association (USGA), LPGA*USGA Girls Golf is the only national program of its kind that specializes in providing a girl-friendly environment for juniors to play the game of golf. Girls Golf sites provide girls with quality golf instruction led by LPGA and PGA teaching professionals, teaching them valuable life skills along the way. In addition to empowering and inspiring girls, LPGA*USGA Girls Golf is on a continued mission to “change the face of golf.”

“[Renee Powell’s] story is truly remarkable,” said LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “She is such a pioneer. She changed golf and continues to change golf through her foundation. She is working day in and day out to provide opportunities. The LPGA wants to do the same thing. We want to introduce the game to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity. And we want to change their lives through the game.”

To make a contribution towards the Renee Powell Grant, please visit www.girlsgolf.org/give.

USGA, World Golf Hall of Fame Collaborate to Showcase Golf’s Legendary Figures at Golf House Pinehurst

VILLAGE of PINEHURST, N.C., and ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (July 20, 2022) – Building on their longstanding partnership and shared passion to elevate the stories of golf’s legends, the USGA and the World Golf Hall of Fame will create a new visitor experience at the USGA’s Golf House Pinehurst campus, opening in 2024. In doing so, the Hall of Fame will relocate its physical presence from St. Augustine to North Carolina.

Additionally, World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held in Pinehurst in 2024 and 2029, to coincide with the 124th U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2 (2024), and the return of back-to-back U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica and U.S. Open Championships, also on Course No. 2 (2029). The first-ever back-to-back U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Open were contested in 2014.

“There’s no better connection to golf’s past, present and future than Pinehurst, and no organization that works harder than the USGA to preserve the history of this great game. We look forward to celebrating the greatest moments, and golf’s greatest athletes, by including the World Golf Hall of Fame as an important part of our new Pinehurst home,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA. “Simply put – it just makes sense, and together with the Hall of Fame, we’re more committed than ever to delivering experiences that build even deeper connections between golf fans and those who have truly led the way in this great game.”

ELYSIAN PARK VENTURES AND THE PGA OF AMERICA FORM INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP

Elysian Park Ventures and the PGA of America have created EP Golf Ventures, LLC, a new investment partnership designed to support innovation in the golf industry.  

Elysian Park Ventures, the private investment arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group, holds a vast portfolio of some of the most promising brands and companies operating in sports technology, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness.

EP Golf Ventures will invest in areas that drive value across the $84 billion-plus golf industry, which is led by the nearly 28,000 PGA Professionals who comprise the PGA of America. Targeted areas include: Coaching and training; health, wellness and performance science; hospitality; facility management; retail; and agriculture. 

EP Golf Ventures has already made investments in two companies: Sportsbox AI, an AI-powered technology company that develops coaching applications through markerless 3D motion capture; and Dryvebox, which was built to increase golf access to all through a mobile golf simulator that offers lessons, practice sessions, virtual golf and private events. 

“The PGA of America is committed to developing and growing the game for the current and next generation of players, golf facilities and PGA Professionals,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “Through EP Golf Ventures, we will be able to identify and invest in the most promising businesses within the golf industry to support both innovation and the growth of the game, as well as create long-term value for PGA Professionals. Elysian Park Ventures has an impressive portfolio of businesses and entities operating within the sports industry, and we are thrilled to partner with them on this venture.” 

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