A special day for a golf icon

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: December 19, 2010

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — During its 2010 winter commencement exercises last week, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree to Renee Powell in recognition of her pioneering spirit and accomplishments as a sportswoman and philanthropist. Powell is the second African-American woman to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. “I am honored and humbled to be recognized by UMES,” said Powell. “This is my first honorary degree from a college in the U.S. and all because of my dad’s vision of teaching me the game of golf.” At age three, Powell picked up a golf club her father had cut down to fit her tiny hands. She entered her first tournament at age 12 and won her division. It was a sign of things to come. She went on to play golf at Ohio University and The Ohio State University, serving as captain of the women’s golf team at each institution. She debuted on the LPGA tour in 1967 and competed in 250 professional golf tournaments.

She won the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia. In the early 1970s, Powell visited Vietnam as part of a USO goodwill tour. In 1979, she made history when she became the first woman to be named head professional at a golf course in the United Kingdom. Powell finished her LPGA career in 1980 and taught golf in Africa and Europe.

She eventually returned home to the Canton area, where she currently serves as the head professional at Clearview, where she learned the game. In 2001, Clearview — the course her father, William, built from scratch — was named to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Also in 2001, the Powell family established the Clearview Legacy Foundation to promote education, preserve the golf course for future generations, develop improved facilities for teaching golf and expand turfgrass research. Powell received the Professional Golf Association’s First Lady of Golf Award in 2003.