Race, Diversity, And The Future Of Golf

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: January 26, 2008

NEW YORK — The African American Golfers Digest would like to comment on the January 19, 2008 issue of GolfWeek magazine’s cover that prominently displayed a noose on its cover.

As an advocate for diversity, education and growth in the golf industry we found the cover to be offensive, inappropriate and extremely insensitive. As the nation’s largest 100% black-owned golf publication we feel obligated to address this issue on behalf of our staff, editors, readers and advertisers.

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It was extremely offensive to walk past the GolfWeek booth and see a symbol of hatred and pain displayed on the cover. Many exhibitors and visitors of our 3rd annual “Diversity Pavilion” that was onsite at the 55th PGA Merchandise Show and Convention expressed their disappointment in GolfWeek magazine for choosing the 2008 PGA Merchandise show as a venue to participate in tabloid journalism.

Just as the comments by Golf Channel Anchor, Kelly Tilghman, were being addressed and rectified, GolfWeek’s actions only served as a lighting rod for additional controversy.

We were pleased to see that GolfWeek did not ignore this issue and took tangible steps to correct it. However, there is much more work to be done as it relates to race relations and diversity in the golf industry.

The African American Golfers Digest launched the “Diversity Pavilion” at the 2006 PGA Show and has continued to exhibit through it consistently in the 2007 and 2008 Shows.

The Diversity Pavilion brings dozens of minority golf merchants to the PGA Merchandise Show and provides them with an opportunity to participate and exhibit in the largest golf show in the United States.

The percentage of African Americans in the golf industry pales in comparison to other ethnic groups and in order to diversify the golf industry, it is imperative that minority participation increases in all facets of the game.

The African American Golfers Digest has made a commitment to providing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses by helping them build relationships with established golf companies and vendors.

The need for diversity is even more important due to the increased participation by African Americans in the game of golf. Industry studies show that approximately 5.5 million African American Golfers actively participate in the game while another 9.8 million non-participants have shown an interest in learning the game.

But more importantly studies show that over 3.5 million African American junior golfers are participating in the sport and that number continues to grow at a steady rate.

“This further emphasizes why the issue of diversity and growth has to addressed now, so that we can look towards the future and we welcome the chance to partner with any and all major corporations in order to insure that such does not ever occur again,” said Malachi Knowles, who serves as Chairman of the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board.

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At the 2008 PGA Merchandise Show, Publisher, Debert Cook, CMP proudly announced during the magazine’s annual onsite press conference that Callaway Golf has signed a one-year advertising commitment with the quarterly publication, becoming the first equipment manufacturer to ever do so in the five-year publishing history of the 40-page lifestyle magazine.

She also announced that the magazine is fiscally healthy and debt free and that it will continue to remain “grass roots” in its editorial style and coverage to serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of black golf enthusiasts.

“This advertising shows Callaway Golf’s commitment to growing their reach in the African American community,” she said.

“We invite GolfWeek magazine along with other major media outlets, golf equipment suppliers, manufacturers and distributors to open the lines of communication and engage in positive dialogue about ways of preventing incidents like this from happening in the future,” said Senior Editor, Edward S. Wanambwa.

NOTE: For further information or to participate with the 2009 “Diversity Pavilion” on January 29-31, in Orlando, log on to www.AfricanAmericanGolfersDiges t.com or call Debert Cook, CMP at (212) 571-6559 , ext. 11.