Clemson promotes diversity through golf camp for African-American girls
CLEMSON — Clemson’s PGA golf management program will promote academic and sports diversity through a golf camp designed for African-American women. The camp runs June 26-30 and will host nine high school students from across the country who are interested in higher education academics and sports.
Rick Lucas is director of the PGA golf management program and senior lecturer in Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department. Lucas sees the camp as a means to make Clemson the most diverse program out of 18 golf management programs in the nation and help prepare prospective students for the overall higher education experience.
“African-American women are sorely underrepresented in the sport of golf,” Lucas said. “We want prospective students in this camp to enjoy golf instruction, but we also want to provide insight into the curriculum and what it means to be a college and golf management student in general.”
The camp’s schedule is packed with information on career paths, industry trends and opportunities in golf management. Students will spend just as much time at the Walker Golf Course working on everything from swing analysis and putting to club repair and alteration.
MacKenzie Mack, a Professional Golf Association and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) professional player and golf instructor, will be one of the primary instructors at Clemson’s camp. In April, Mack became only the fifth African-American female in history to become a Class A member of the PGA.
Mack not only will serve as an expert in the game, but also provide her unique perspective and experience for the camp participants. Mack said she has been involved in the past with camps that were geared toward African-American males, but Clemson’s camp will be the first in her experience to cater specifically to African-American females.
“I hope to bring these women several examples of what golf can do for them,” Mack said. “I’m living proof that this can be a game for them and that there are opportunities and benefits that golf can provide.”
Mack said she’s well aware that many people see golf as an “elitist sport for Caucasians.” She hopes to use the camp to cut through some of these misconceptions and touch on the many benefits that golf can provide for African-American females outside of physical activity.
With this emphasis in mind, Lucas has also recruited the help of Tiffany Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of Black Girls Golf LLC, the largest golf community for African-American women that works with the PGA and LPGA to provide hands-on golf instruction and golf outings.
Fitzgerald founded Black Girls Golf after spending years in the corporate world, where she noticed the networking opportunities available through golf and the lack of African-American females in the golf world.
Through Clemson’s camp, Fitzgerald hopes to show participants what golf has done for her in creating and nurturing professional relationships. She wants to stress that women don’t have to be pros to enjoy the benefits of golf. She said spending time with coworkers on the golf course has had numerous professional benefits for her despite a short game that she describes as “hit or miss.”
“No one goes to a party uninvited, and if golf is a party then many African-American women don’t feel they’ve been invited,” Fitzgerald said. “I think camps like this one will go far to make the game and its many benefits accessible; I want to make African-American women aware that golf should be in their professional toolbox.”
MEDIA NOTE: Media are invited to attend Clemson’s golf camp at the Clemson golf team’s practice facility from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 27. Camp instructors will provide game assessments and full swing lessons using Trackman and Boditrak technology, and participants will get a tour of the team’s golf house. Lucas, Mack and some students will be available for interviews. The practice facility is located off of Perimeter Road behind the indoor football practice facility and indoor track.