Changing the game
After serving in Europe in WWII and distinguishing himself as an amateur golfer as well, William “Bill” Powell returned to Ohio and found local golf clubs less than welcoming to African Americans. Accordingly, he secured backing and then became the first African American to design, build, own and operate his own course: Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio. Powell wrote in his autobiography: “Golf is a part of society and I wanted to be included. I want you to be included, too.” He raised his daughter, Renee, and son, Laurence, on the course (now on the National Register of Historic Places), and both found careers in golf. Renee, the second African American on the LPGA Tour, played in more than 250 pro tournaments, winning the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia. She also traveled the world promoting golf and working to improve its diversity. She was one of the first seven women invited to join the R&A after it dropped its “men only” policy in 2015, and she remains the only American—and the only golfer—to have a building named for them at St Andrews, with Renee Powell Hall on the university’s campus. Her brother, Larry, superintendent at Clearview since 1971, has distinguished himself in the field, being the first superintendent and GCSAA member to be inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame and sharing in the 2019 Old Tom Morris Award, given to the Powell family. Today, he and Renee continue to work at Clearview, with Renee serving as the head pro.