Each major golf entity has a strategy in place to either diversify the game and/or their staff. The PGA Tour, PGA of America, USGA and AJGA are all engaged in the diversity conversation and providing deliverables. While Golf Channel has been less overt in their efforts, a closer look reveals that they’ve long been an advocate of diversifying the game and industry.
In 2009, they aired a documentary titled “Uneven Fairways” that chronicles the history of African-Americans in the game. Written by Pete McDaniel and Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the documentary details the lives of Bill Spiller, Ted Rhodes, Charlie Sifford and other pioneers of the game who competed under the United Golf Association banner (an all-black tour created in response to professional golf’s segregation laws of the time). The documentary’s release inspired the start of the new professional golf tour dedicated to minorities, The Advocates Pro Tour, which is still going strong. The Golf Channel continues to air “Uneven Fairways” yearly in celebration of Black History Month.
In 2010, the NBC affiliate debuted the “Golf in America” documentary series and casted Anthony Anderson as the host (which to this writer’s knowledge, is among the only nationally-televised golf programs hosted by an African-American). In the same year, Notah Begay joined their staff as an on-course reporter. They’ve championed on-air talent like Damon Hack and Scott Walker, and a team of women golf analysts/reporters such as Kelly Tilghman, Lisa Cornwell, Bailey Moiser and Judy Rankin to name just a few. While it may seem subtle, visibility of diverse individuals in a golf environment goes a long way towards impacting the perception of the game.
Furthermore, “Morning Drive” producer Aaron Bearden participated in the first ever Emerging Leaders Forum earlier this year – a platform that brought together 14 future leaders of the golf industry to create a community among themselves, strengthen leadership skills and develop diversity & inclusion within their resepective organizations.
If you watched closely, Golf Channel has aired a segment on Diversity & Inclusion on the “Morning Drive” each of the last three weeks in honor of Black History Month. Included among the special guests were Golf 20/20 Diversity Task Force Chairman, Dr. Michael Cooper, and PGA of America Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Sandy Cross (who is the Task Force Co-Chair). See the videos below to watch each of those segments: