Renee Powell has never shied away from a match. She was only the second Black golfer to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. Along the way, she competed in some 250 tournaments, winning the Kelly-Springfield Open in Australia in 1973. At Ohio University and Ohio State, Powell became the first Black American to captain a major college golf team.
At 75, Powell is the head pro at Clearview Golf Club, her family’s 75-year-old course in East Canton, Ohio, and director of the foundation dedicated to preserving it. Her aim is to bring the game of golf and its healthful benefits to women, minorities, young people, veterans and those with mental and physical challenges. “We cannot remain stagnant,” she says. “Whenever you can move things forward, I think it is an obligation of us to do so.” Since 2011, she has run Clearview H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), a free therapeutic golf program for female veterans. “They say it is such a safe haven,” Powell notes. And in partnership with Bank of America, her Clearview Legacy Foundation is looking for more opportunities to use golf as a tool to help underserved communities.
“There’s so much you can learn from the game of golf, whether it’s resilience or patience,” says Bank of America Chief Administrative Officer Andrea Smith, who serves on the PGA of America board with Powell and is friend of the trailblazing golfer. “The more people we get out there, the better we’re going to be.”