Helen Webb Harris
Helen Webb Harris (Courtesy of golfcoursehalloffame.com)

The Wake-Robin Golf Club — the oldest African-American-operated golf club in the United States — will celebrate its 80th anniversary with its annual golf tournament Monday, June 5 at the Woodmore Country Club in Mitchellville, Md.

The tournament, which begins at 9 a.m., will double as a fundraiser to benefit young women who are interested in golf, in hopes they will join the Wake-Robin club one day.

Founded by Helen Webb Harris in 1937, the Wake-Robin Golf Club currently has 50 members ranging from 45 to 93 years of age. The club targets female golfers who aren’t solely interested in becoming professionals but truly enjoy the sport.

Golf is not a sport that traditionally holds weight in the African-American community, especially with women, but Wake-Robin aims to eliminate the idea of the stereotypical golfer and encourage African-American women to know that it isn’t a closed sport. The club also awards its Helen Webb Harris Scholarship to minority female students.

Velina Sutton, a seven-year member of Wake-Robin, said Wake-Robin filled the missing pieces of her life.

“Golf gave me the opportunity to meet women with like goals in the same age group,” she said. “In doing so, more opportunities arose especially in community service and the scholarships.

“I had no real intention of playing golf but I just wanted to learn the game, it was more difficult than I expected and I embraced the challenge,” Sutton said. “By experiencing the stress that golf creates for the mind and body, the fellowship that’s involved with Wake-Robin creates an atmosphere that oozes with perseverance.”

When asked about the lasting impact she wants Wake-Robin to have on the community, Sutton stressed unity among women and the sport of golf.

“We strive to make a difference in the community through service and scholarship, we’re not just women who play golf,” Sutton said. “We work with women who are in their 90s who’ve been in the group for 50-plus years and acquire their wisdom to spread throughout the community. By learning about the progression of African-American women in golf, we appreciate the treasures we have now.”

The tournament will begin with a shotgun start, followed by a luncheon sponsored by the Woodmore Country Club. More information can be found at wake-robingolf.org.

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