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March 08, 2017
Five Questions: Clemmie Perry
Clemmie Perry is the Executive Director for Women of Color Golf.
Photo Credit: Dominique Berry
What led you down the path to take an interest in golf?
In 2012, I was working for a Fortune 500 Aerospace and Defense company and my Corporate Executive position was downsized.
Later that year, my youngest brother located a set of used golfs for me to use.
Another brother gifted a golf lesson and I was hooked and driven to share the experience with other women of color to learn the game of golf.
I also gained interest in the vast business opportunities and a new network of people in the golf community to share common goals and interests. In 2014, I realized there were not many women or girls of color on the golf course. At that time, I decided to use my severance package to start Women of Color Golf (WOCG) and Girls On the Green Tee (GOTGT) programs, to help grow the game in my community for a diverse population of women or girls.
You have a 501c3 organization, Women of Color Golf (WOCG) and Girls on the Green Tee (GOTGT). Could you explain what it is, what you do and what do you hope to achieve?
Women of Color Golf (WOCG) and Girls on the Green Tee (GOTGT) programs were created as a pathway for women and girls of color to gain accessibility and exposure to learn the game of golf.
Our goal is to offer an affordable outlet to participate in the game through organized golf clinics, networking and social media outlets.
WOCG and GOTGT programs hope to achieve and develop a platform for women and girls of all colors to access and find like-minded individuals to enjoy the game of golf.
Ours Girls On the Green Tee (GOTGT) is designed to encourage and promote girls ages seven through14, in disadvantaged situations to learn and play the sport of golf and to integrate mentors and coaches that will focus on initiatives to prepare girls to live and work in a diverse, rapidly changing world. By exposing these young girls to golf and various golf facilities, they will have an opportunity to broaden their view of the world.
In only two years, WOCG and GOTGT programs have trained over 300 women and girls on the basic fundamentals of golf in the Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla. community.
Golf was never considered a sport amongst African Americans many years ago, but it seems the tide has turned vastly, why do you think that is?
There are many African American golf pioneers that have a historical importance and numerous contributions to the expansion and development of golf in the United States. To name just a few, they include African American golfers such as William “Bill” Powell, Jim Thorpe, Calvin Peete, Lee Elder, Charlie Sifford, Jim Dent, Renee Powell and countless others. These individuals positively impacted the golf community despite the pervasive prejudice and racism of the Jim Crow era.
When Tiger Woods won the Masters and other professional golfers of color began to receive coverage on more prominent network TV channels, it made the game more appealing to African Americans.
Nearly two decades after Tiger Woods' arrival, golf still struggles to attract minorities.
How important is it to have young people learn the game and principles of golf?
Golf provides the opportunity for young people to learn life skills, such as practice, respect, perseverance and honesty, preparing them to meet the challenges of today’s world with confidence.
WOCG and GOTGT programs were recently recognized by the U.S. White House Champions for Change. Can you tell us about this prestigious recognition?
Through the initiative on “Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color,” The White House Council on Women and Girls identified key obstacles facing marginalized girls and honored those who worked to ensure that marginalized girls reach a reasonable level of access and success. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
The event was attended by a host of powerful African-American female leaders and provided a platform for the ten honorees to discuss the continued role of young black girls in creating the very networks and outreach needed within the communities they live in.
We are extremely honored and proud to have received such a distinguished award from former President Barack Obama, for our efforts to make golf more inclusive and diverse for women and girls of color.