Dr. Michael Cooper's January 2017 Blog
The 2017 golf season gets off to a fast start with the Bill Dickey East/West Celebrity Golf Classic, January 13-15, 2017, in Orlando FL. Founded in the late 1970s by the late Bill Dickey, the organization is the premier minority golf association in America for providing college scholarships. Since its inception they have awarded over $3.6 million to over 1,000 minority students across the United States. Our world is a better place thanks to William “Bill” Dickey!
The PGA Merchandise Show will also be in Orlando from January 24-27, 2017. Last year, people of color were so noticeably absent that my good friend Pete McDaniel wrote a blog asking why golf continued to be so non diverse and inclusive, and when would industry leaders finally do something to remedy the situation. Thanks to one dedicated individual, Debert Cook, it looks like this years show will finally attract a more diverse audience!
Debert has used the African American Golfers Digest to personally invite and welcome black golf enthusiasts to the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show. She’ll have a vendor booth and exhibit at the show, and she has taken the initiative to schedule appearances from several grass roots golf leaders, thereby guaranteeing a more diverse and inclusive audience. Big thanks to Debert for helping to build bridges connecting golf industry leaders with those in our local communities. That’s a win-win for everyone involved!
The APGA, formerly known as the Advocates Pro Tour, released its 2017 tournament schedule. The six tournament campaign begins March 25-26, 2017 in Pensacola FL. One event per month will follow, culminating with the championship tournament August 25-27, 2017 in Los Angeles. Now entering its eighth season, the APGA is well established as America’s top developmental tour for young, aspiring black professional male golfers. Very few developmental tours make it past 3-5 years, and even fewer have a reputation for fiscal accountability and for consistently adding prize monies above and beyond the costs of tournament entry fees. In fact, over the past seven seasons the Advocates tour has contributed over $400,000 to prize monies over and above collected entry fees. That’s unheard of for small developmental tours, and it’s something to be proud of and rally around. Other 2017 APGA locations will be Atlanta in April, Tampa in May, Chicago in June, and Dallas in July. Stay tuned for more specific details.
I have served on the Golf 20/20 Diversity Task Force since 2010, and was recently appointed to the Golf 20/20 Advisory Board. Golf 20/20 is one of three important initiatives under the World Golf Foundation umbrella. The other initiatives are the World Golf Hall of Fame and The First Tee, and all are led by Steve Mona, the CEO for the World Golf Foundation.
The mission of Golf 20/20 is “to unite and activate the golf industry around key strategic initiatives that increase participation and retention of participants, inspire involvement and interest in the game, and promote sustainable best practices for golf facilities.” The mission of the Golf 20/20 Diversity Task Force is “to increase ethnic and gender diversity in the golf industry among recreational and competitive players and in the business of golf.”
Personally, by way of my service I hope to be more instrumental in bringing more diversity and inclusion to golf. Similar to Debert Cook, I’d like to help build bridges that connect golf industry and grass roots community leaders, and help our local champions get funding support, once again, to allow them to better serve their constituents. (Anyone out there remember the USGA Good of the Game Grant)? I’d like to help increase female and minority participation in recreational and competitive play. I’d also like to help create more career (and educational) opportunities for minority candidates, and help more minority owned businesses establish partnerships and relationships within the golf industry, which boasts a $70 billion economic impact. Very, very little of that economy flows through minority communities.
I’ll participate in my first advisory board meeting on day one of the PGA Merchandise Show, and attend my first National Golf Day on April 26, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, I ask you to send me your suggestions on what we can do collectively to increase diversity and inclusion in golf. We’re in this together, and I’m convinced that we can make a difference by uniting around common causes. I look forward to hearing from you! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.