Powell To Receive Honorary Doctorate

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: April 29, 2008

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — PGA Professional Renee Powell of East Canton, Ohio, the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf, will become the first female golfer and ninth overall professional in history to receive an honorary doctor of laws (LLD) degree from St. Andrews University in Scotland.

One of the most respected woman golfers of the past 40 years, Powell will be conferred with the degree on June 25, in a ceremony at St. Andrews’ Younger Hall.

She joins a roster of acclaimed figures from science, economics, journalism and medicine, who also will receive degrees during the series of ceremonies at the university.

Powell, a pioneering player, coach, educator and goodwill ambassador, is one of only three African-American women to have competed on the LPGA Tour.

Powell’s degree follows, in order, the following professional golfers to be honored at St. Andrews: Charlie Sifford, Peter Alliss, Nick Faldo, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros.

“The PGA of America is extremely proud that Renee Powell, a wonderful ambassador of the game, will be receiving this honor by the University of St. Andrews,” said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb, who will represent the Association at the ceremony.

“Renee’s lifetime work to elevate the role of the PGA Professional and to spread golf’s inherent values have made her an inspiration to so many worldwide.”

Powell began playing golf at the age of three through her father, William, began playing competitive golf at age 12. After becoming a champion at national junior level, she turned professional in 1967.

During her 13-year professional career, she competed in more than 250 tournaments worldwide. Since 1980, Powell has been a PGA Teaching Professional in the U.S., and has extended her skills as golf’s unofficial international ambassador for more than 40 years.

In 1979, Powell became the first female head professional in the United Kingdom, a post that came after she had traveled for years promoting golf and goodwill. In 1971, she was a member of a month-long USO Tour to greet the U.S. troops near the battlefront in Vietnam By her count, Powell has made 25 trips to Africa, where she has taught both heads of state and juniors to enjoy the game of golf.

Returning home to Clearview Golf Club in 1988, Powell guides a course her father, a U.S. Army veteran, built in 1946. William Powell, a PGA Life Member of the Northern Ohio PGA Section, remains the only African-American to own, build and operate a golf course in the United States.

Powell’s youngest brother, Larry, is course superintendent and a long-time member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

In 2001, Clearview Golf Club earned a berth in the National Register of Historic Places and an Ohio Historical Marker rests on the first tee.

“To receive an Honorary Doctorate is in itself such an honor. This is my first honorary degree and to receive it from the University of St Andrews, I am truly humbled,” said Powell.

“I am very honored to be one of just a handful of golfers to receive an honorary doctorate from the university, all who I have the utmost respect for – and to be the first female golfer is incredible.”

It will be a return visit to St Andrews for Renee, who delivered a public lecture, ‘The Many Faces of Women’s Golf” at the university last summer.

Describing the home of golf as a ‘magical’ place, Powell said. “I absolutely love St Andrews. Last year was my third trip there and I am so glad to be returning again this year.”

“When I walk around St Andrews, I realize how very fortunate I am to have been taught the game of golf and to play to such a level that has allowed me the opportunity to travel to St Andrews and the “Home of Golf” – the beginning of my sport.”

In 1989, Renee was inducted into the Ohio Woman’s Hall of Fame and in 1991 she received the Dr. Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Award in the world of sports. She and her family were honored in 1992 as the recipients of the National Golf Foundation’s Jack Nicklaus Golf Family of the Year Award.

Powell was elected to PGA membership in 1996, a year after she established the Renee Powell Youth Golf Camp Cadre Program.

A member of the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame and the Stark County Women’s Hall of Fame, she also was named in 1999 as an honorary member of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Division.

She has served as development and programming consultant for The First Tee Program and in 2000, began the LPGA Girls Golf Club in East Canton.