SAVED FROM SHAQTIN’ By Arthur George-Special to BASN JaVale McGee is reclaiming...
Wendell J. Haskins And The Original Tee Golf Classic
NEW YORK — I recently had the pleasure and privilege to speak with Mr. Wendell J. Haskins, founder and president of Original Tee Inc., the organization behind the Original Tee Golf Classic.
This Sunday, Haskins and his organization will honor Dr. Charlie Sifford at its 8th Annual outing at the Wild Turkey Golf Course in Hamburg, New Jersey.
This enterprise is the outgrowth of Haskins’ vision, passion, drive and perseverance to marry fashion and golf into a lifestyle that not only values and appreciates the sporting life but also seeks to educate us on the contributions of African-Americans to the world of golf.
As he has said on many occasions, “The game of golf does not begin and end with Tiger Woods.” To that end this engaging, energetic, effervescent entrepreneur has committed himself to “support organizations and charities that contribute to the growth, success and health of our communities.”
Our discussions touched on many areas but my initial question centered on the origin of the name of the organization. Wendell mentioned that when he became interested in golf, he became curious about the history of African-Americans in golf and as a burgeoning golf enthusiast read the book “Forbidden Fairways” by Dr. Calvin H. Sinnette.
During the course of reading this book he learned about the creator of the first tee, Dr. George F. Grant. At the time it was the 100th anniversary of the golf tee, and as significant a creation and contribution to the game of golf, this historic event was met with little fanfare.
So as a way to honor Dr. Grant, it was only natural to name the organization after his creation, hence Original Tee Inc.
As for his ultimate goal, it is to create a successful lifestyle brand that represents the inclusion of and is marketed to African-Americans. However, the pursuit of the goal is not without challenges. The greatest challenge was that of adequate funding needed to launch the golf tournament which is an integral part of the organization.
Without proper funding, it is difficult to launch a competitive “clothing brand” to go against the other premium brands that become part of the lifestyle he envisions for African-Americans.
However, with every challenge are associated joys and his greatest joy is “bringing together people of color who have so many things in common and being able to network and form new relationships and partnerships.”
It is also gratifying the support received and how the organization has given to different causes over the years.
Lastly, if he had one wish it would be for all people to be aware and recognize the contributions that African-Americans have made to the game as well as understand what Black golfers who preceded us had to overcome to participate in the game and thereby give us the opportunity to participate as well.
My wish is for us to support Wendell in his pursuits so that we not only honor the past, but by working together and supporting one another, we build a glorious future.
NOTE: For more on Wendell Haskins and Original Tee Inc. log on at www.originaltee.com