Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Golf Tournament's Bogey: MINORITY TOURNEY WRESTLES WITH THORNY ISSUES OF RACE AND PARTICIPATION

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Golf Tournament's Bogey: MINORITY TOURNEY WRESTLES WITH THORNY ISSUES OF RACE AND PARTICIPATION

Article excerpt

Golf Tournament's Bogey: MINORITY TOURNEY WRESTLES WITH THORNY ISSUES OF RACE AND PARTICIPATION

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In a competition laced with confusion and irony, Bethune-Cookman College's men's team won the National Minority College Golf Championship here, last month, with an all-White team of students who hail from abroad. Adding to the irony, two teams of minority players were disqualified from competition.

The confusions stemmed from an apparent misunderstanding about which teams were permitted to compete. The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), a Hispanic-serving institution, and Chicago State University, a predominantly Black but no historically Black college or university, were invited to attend the event by the National Minority College Gold Scholarship Fund (NMCGSF). But the day before the first round -- after the teams hand already arrived at the tournament -- they were told they could not compete by the Black College Coaches Association (BCCA). The reason? They did not represent HBCUs.

That's where the irony comes in. Bethune-Cookman, which defeated runner-up Jackson State University by 28 strokes for its first national title, won with an all-White team -- none of them American.

"I thought this tournament was about helping minorities in golf in this country," John Garcia, coach of the UTPA team, told Golf World magazine. "We're got a golden opportunity here. We should all be in this together."

The controversy may force a change i the rules. The tournament is sponsored by the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and the NMCGSF.

"We invited [UTPA and Chicago State] with the intent of being inclusive and fair and equal to all minorities," says Craig Bowen, executive director of the NMCGSF. "I really don't agree with the decision the coaches made."

Some members of the minority golf community think that the problem lies in the tournament's focus -- or lack thereof.

"If your purpose is to promote golf and to bring Black kids into the sport, then you've got to say that,' says Herschel Caldwell, publisher of Minority Gold magazine. "If it is to promote competition within the Black colleges, that point also has to be made clear -- and I think the public will accept either way. It's just that one or the other of those goals should be made very clear.

"But it appears that the latter is the case,' he continues, "because over the last few years, more and more non-minority youngsters have been recruited and we see the effect of that with an all-White team from Bethune-Cookman winning this year's event."

Dr. Calvin H. Sinnette, author of Forbidden Fairways, a book about the history of Blacks in gold, agrees.

"It's crazy, it's really crazy," he says. "The Black coaches of these HBCUs, many of them have either all-White or large numbers of White participants on these teams. …

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