Golf programs at HBCUs have seen an ebb and flow in their teams, with the number of black players decreasing in recent years. Reported by The African American Golfers Digest, there are 33 HBCUs with golf teams, but that number has decreased in the last few years due to financial strife. Top programs from Grambling State, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State have all been dropped, citing inability to fund their programs. According to ESPN's The Undefeated, only 40% of the MEAC is made up of black male golfers.
Despite these setbacks, there are schools whose golf teams are thriving. Bethune-Cookman's men's and women's teams have garnered notoriety as worthy opponents. The Wildcats are a reigning competitor at the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championships. Part of their success may stem from the fact that the campus is within driving distance from the LPGA headquarters, making the school attractive to potential players. Alabama State University has also seen its golf program succeed, with six consecutive SWAC championships. Their most recent men's team reflects what many HBCU teams look like: two black players, one white Canadian, one South Asian from Bangladesh, and a black teammate from Zimbabwe. Bethune-Cookman's women's team has no Americans—two are from Europe, one from the Philippines, one Canadian, one Swede, and a Puerto Rican comprise this winning squad. Heavy foreign recruitment characterizes these programs, allowing coaches to go beyond the American pool to build calculated teams. While it seems problematic that these HBCU golf teams aren't mostly black, there is a call to action to black golfers in that. It comes down to opportunity and action; if the opportunity to join a high school team is open, take it. If more black high schoolers work to make a name for themselves on their circuits and at tournaments, then these HBCU golf coaches will be more likely to look at them. With so few black players, the potential to become a notable heavy hitter on a team is wide open.
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There are an estimated 1.4 million recreational black golfers. Will you become the next stand out African American golfer next to Charlie Sifford and Tiger Woods? Together, we can put HBCU golf back on the map, and with that, draw more black golfers to take to the course.