The Shadow League was out covering the 19th Annual Original Tee Golf Classic presented by BMW of North America on July 22nd in Hamburg, NJ. Over 200 supporters and friends came out to take part in the tournament.
Not only did African American professional players compete for a 20k purse, but celebrities like NY Knicks Herb Williams and Actor Malika Yoba enjoyed a day filled with golf. As the day went on, it became more apparent why OTGC is one of the most important charitable tournaments for the black community.
We had a chance to sit-down and talk to several notable attendees, including OTGC’s founder Wendell J. Haskins and keynote honoree Anthony Anderson, on the importance of diversifying golf and introducing it to the black youth at an early age.
Wendell J. Haskins: “Some of the young people are now growing up with golf experiences that are turning them into lifetime golfers. When I look at young people who used to come to this tournament at 6 years old, 12 years ago, and they are 18 or 19, they look forward to this tournament every year. They’ve grown into young golfers because of their OTGC experience and get to experience playing with different people of color, be in an environment where a majority of people are color and a welcoming environment encourages them to play.
It’s turned them into lifetime golfers. And as people as golfers you aren’t in environments like this. We have a new component where we have young black pros play, so now being bale to provide a platform for some of the best golfers in the world to compete and play a pro competition where they are able to earn money, that’s inspiring to know that you can play in something and have a chance to win.”
Anthony Anderson: “This tournament brings up the conversation to why there isn’t a vast representation of people who look like us in the sport of golf. Once we target why that is, what are the remedies that we can do to aid and help push that initiative along, to have more diversity in the game. But, it also starts with opportunity. The majority of us come from the inner city where we aren’t afforded the luxury of golf courses or country clubs. So, it’s just about access and opportunity.”
Randy Taylor, teaching professional at The Bridge Golf Foundation & Learning Center: “If you’ve noticed a lot of people who come up in the game of golf they play at a very early age. I think one of the biggest things is that we aren’t introducing our young men and women in the urban community to golf at an early age. A lot of it has to do with transportation, not having golf courses close or access to golf courses where they live.
So, with The Bridge Golf Foundation & Learning Center, we are making it accessible. Right now we are going to schools within the five boroughs of NYC and are teaching gold in their gym classes. The educational part of golf has to come form someone or some organizations that doesn’t want to do a one timer. Also making it affordable…but I do think that a lot of golf professionals at their clubs, in my opinion, have to step up a little bit and say ‘I’m at a private club, but what can I do in my community?!'”
Kevin Liles, music record executive: “I think kids need to understand that the more things they do and add to their tool box, the better they are. And golf is something that I think every kid should have the opportunity to play because when you fall in love with the sport, you’ll understand why I’m an addicted right now (laugh).
I did a lot of deals not on the golf course but, when you find something that you love and you can make a deal, it’s no better feeling. I love the game because I became a student of the game. I encourage everyone to look at golf as an opportunity for you to get to know someone, go through victory and agony defeat at every hole and also experience some of the best places around the world.”