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Through benefit event and inspiration, Renee Powell and Mariah Stackhouse look to diversify golf

Renee Powell Benefit
Emilia Migliaccio

ATLANTA – Sunday afternoon, at 1:35pm ET, marked the beginning to Nelly Korda’s historic KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory. Exactly 10 minutes later, Renee Powell, the 2020 LPGA Ellen Griffin Rolex Award winner, and Mariah Stackhouse, a five-year LPGA Tour veteran, met face-face for the first time. 

It’s the perfect story within a story that dates back to Powell’s father, Bill, a World War II veteran who played golf for 84 years. A Black man who endured racism and discrimination for identifying as a golfer, but a man who believed in opportunity and accessibility. He decided to build his own golf course, Clearview Golf Club in his home state of Ohio, a golf course where everyone would be welcome. 

On Monday following the Women’s PGA Championship, the Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta hosted the Renee Powell Clearview Legacy Benefit, a fundraiser to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Clearview Golf Club and raise awareness of Powell’s contribution and impact on the women’s game. 

“My whole family, they made so many sacrifices so that I could do what I did” said Powell. “My dad taught me the game of golf, and to be able to go on tour, to travel the world while they were at home in the trenches keeping that golf course alive. I just feel a strong sense of responsibility and obligation.”

The benefit began with a morning showcase, featuring Stackhouse and Powell and the latter’s impact on the past, present and future of the game. Both Powell and Stackhouse got emotional during the showcase. 

“When I left the tour, Mariah wasn’t even born and there was no other African American playing. I’m just so thrilled that all of this is happening today and it’s just so great to kick this benefit off in Atlanta where Mariah is from and that she can be a part of this,” said Powell to the crowd, while beaming at Stackhouse.

“Renee, you mean the world to me,” Stackhouse replied. “You literally paved the way for myself and the ones that have come after. I have such huge respect for you as a person, as an athlete and as a fighter. It’s going to be an amazing day to uplift this rich history and an event that will be the catalyst for generations to come,” said Stackhouse, whose powerful words left the crowd in a moved silence. 

The Clearview Golf Club operates mostly on fundraising and donations. The proceeds of the pro-am go to the Clearview Legacy Foundation for Education, Preservation and Turfgrass Research, dedicated to preserving the Clearview legacy and facilities for future generations.

Nine LPGA professionals and LPGA*USGA Girls Golf members participated in the event. Some of the professionals included, Maria Fassi, Leona Maguire, Brianna Do and Jane Park. 

The day was not a typical pro-am. The amateurs played two sets of nine holes with one LPGA professional staged on each hole. Additionally, Girls Golf members had the opportunity to meet the professionals and amateurs. Throughout the event, there was a continuous three-hole putting challenge, an afternoon youth clinic sponsored by PGA Reach and a second golf showcase with Powell and Stackhouse, before the event concluded with food trucks and an evening reception.

“It’s an honor for me to be a part of this day and see the legacy she’s [Renee] building and the people she’s inspiring,” said Maguire, following the first nine holes of the pro-am. “I didn’t come from a rich background. My parents were both schoolteachers, so I was lucky enough to grow up on a par-3 course and that those opportunities were available to me. It’s all about creating opportunities and giving everyone the best possible chance.”

Eleven-year-old Ariel Collins got to spend time with LPGA Tour professional Do during the pro-am. “She’s very interactive and was so funny, and it was a perfect match because she said I was funny, too,” said Collins, who started playing golf at 4 years old and never looked back. 

“It’s so great to be a part of a movement that Renee started herself and with all the other women and trying to get the minority out and play this wonderful game of golf.”

Collins wasn’t shy in her response when asked about her golf dreams. “My dream in golf is to make it to the LPGA Tour and to be compared to Renee Powell,” she said. 

“I hope the image of golf in the future looks like our nation,” said Powell. “Clearview is not only a significant part of golf and African American history, but American history. I know there’s not just going to be one Mariah in future years.”