What an inspirational tale this is! As the subtitle explains, this is the true story of William Powell and Clearview, the only golf course designed, built, and owned by an African American.
William Powell, the grandson of slaves, grew up in Ohio. Somehow he got enamored of golf at an early age although he had never played the game. After school, he used to run all the way to a course seven miles away just to hang around.
He asked to play, but was told that “his kind” was not welcome there. Eventually though, one of the men let young Willie caddy for him. He worked twice as hard as the other caddies, because he knew that, as his principal told him,
“If you are going to get ahead in this world, Willie, you can’t be as good as the white children; you have to be twice as good.”
Eventually, the white doctor for whom his mother worked offered to teach him how to play. He loved it, and practiced incessantly. In high school, he was the captain of the school’s team. To compete in the local junior tournament, he hitchhiked twenty-one miles to play, and finished third.
He went to college, went to war, came home and got married. And he didn’t stop working hard. He wanted to buy a big farm and put a golf course there, but the local bank wouldn’t help him, even though he was as eligible for a GI loan as the white soldiers.
Eventually, two local black doctors helped him, and he built Clearview Golf Club mostly himself during the day, before going to his night job as a security guard. It first opened with nine holes in April, 1948, and expanded to 18 in 1978. He declared that anyone could play there, no matter what color.
When his little girl Renee turned three, he gave her a small golf club. She entered her first amateur tournament at age 12 and won her division. Three years later, she had 30 youth tournament trophies!
William Powell died in 2009 at age 92, living to see his daughter Renee become the second African-American woman ever to play on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour. Currently she is head professional at her family’s Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio.
Evaluation: This is such a great story! Reading about how hard Powell worked to realize his dreams, you can’t help but admire his determination and outlook. And what a great ending with not only his own achievements, but those of his daughter Renee! The warm oil paintings of award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez are a perfect complement to this book.
Published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2012