PWCC Men's Division I Champions, Howard University pose for a photo with their trophies during the Awards Ceremony for the 2022 PGA Works Collegiate Championship at The Union League Liberty Hill. (Courtesy of PGA of America)
PWCC Men's Division I Champions, Howard University pose for a photo with their trophies during the Awards Ceremony for the 2022 PGA Works Collegiate Championship at The Union League Liberty Hill. (Courtesy of PGA of America)

Howard University’s Gregory Odom Jr. made his PGA Tour debut in May at the Wells Fargo Championship in Maryland.

His exciting entry came, in part, because of a sponsor exemption – a mechanism that the Tour uses to help African Americans and other individuals of color gain footing in the golf profession. 

Odom’s appearance only serves to help underscore the PGA Tour’s continued diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

The Tour has partnered with organizations like the 100 Black Men of America in its ongoing efforts.

In 2020, the PGA Tour established a five-year partnership to help 100 Black Men of America enhance educational and economic opportunities for African American and minority residents and communities.

According to the Tour’s latest diversity report, nearly 1,000 youth have benefited in two years from resources and programming that promote career and workforce readiness, financial literacy, community service and golf.

Following Commissioner Jay Monahan’s 2020 announcement committing a minimum of $100 million over 10 years to supporting nonprofits that advance equity in the communities in which the PGA Tour plays, the Tour joined the 3M Open as a presenting sponsor of the “Be The Change” golf tournament in Minneapolis.

The 3M Open hosted a series of events during its 2022 tournament.

They welcomed 500 youth from the Minneapolis and St. Paul area to the tournament to enjoy golf, music, art and discussions with local and national celebrities, sports figures, golf enthusiasts, and corporate leaders.

Additionally, the tournament hosted a “Shark Tank” style business competition presented by a local sponsor that featured three finalists selected from nearly 50 applicants that pitched their businesses to a panel of business leaders before a live audience.

Grants totaling $100,000 were awarded to assist the finalists with mentoring, business development and networking resources.

Golf also returned to Florida’s oldest HBCU, Edward Waters University.

The Players Championship granted $50,000 to Waters’ women’s golf program which helped support the school’s launch of a Student-Athlete Golf Mentoring Program.

The program counts as a dual-purpose initiative that engages student-athletes to serve as mentors in unique professional development environments – including exposure to career opportunities within the Tour and The Players network – and off-campus volunteer experiences with community-based programs.

Further, after being inspired by a global awakening toward race relations in the U.S. following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the Tour announced a $100 million commitment over 10 years to support racial equity and inclusion efforts.

In delivering the Tour’s diversity, equity and inclusion report, Monahan proudly announced that they’d achieved more than $40 million in charitable impact in just two years since the pledge.

“On the road toward that aggressive goal, we’ve spent the necessary time listening to understand,” Monahan said. “There isn’t a single solution or one-size-fits-all approach to addressing social inequities and injustices. Experiences differ. Issues are complex. And we must invest more than dollars in becoming a true and effective resource.”

Monahan noted that he’s grateful that the Tour is “uniquely structured in sports to bring our tournaments and corporate partners together to help organizations drive vital equity efforts.”

The diversity, equity and inclusion report includes a breakdown of the Tour’s priorities. The charitable impact for health and human services counted for $12.7 million, while $8.9 million have gone toward youth development.

Additionally, racial equity and social justice reform reaped approximately $7.5 million and community economic growth and empowerment realized a $5.5 million impact because of the effort of the Tour and its partners.

In January, the PGA Tour received a score of 95/100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, becoming the first major sports organization ever included.

Since its inception, the PGA Tour reportedly has generated more than $3 billion in charitable impact. Monahan said the investments directly result from the support of partners, players, sponsors, fans, volunteers and communities.

In 2014, the PGA Tour adopted a strategic plan, “formalizing a long-held commitment to diversity efforts that strengthen its workforce, operators and industry.”

Monahan then “convened a task force of leaders across the organization to assess its progress and identify specific actions, initiatives and opportunities that reflect its core values,” PGA Tour officials stated.

The PGA Tour and Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour (APGA) launched the APGA Collegiate Ranking in 2021, providing exemptions for five African-American golfers to play on the APGA Tour and the pre-qualifying stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.

The Tour has provided $500,000 to HBCUs and its affiliation with the APGA Collegiate Ranking.

“As former Commissioner Deane Beman once stated, the PGA Tour is ‘more than just a sports league; we are a public trust,’” Monahan said.

“With that as our North Star, our success as an organization is through a long-held commitment to showcasing the world’s best players to fans around the world, always with an impact on local lives, communities and economies,” he said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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