EXPIRED: 12/31/09 – Bill Powell, 93, was the grandson of Alabama slaves, and after returning from World War II he became the first, and only, African American to build, own and operate a golf course.
Powell caddied a bit in high school for extra money, and became pretty good at the game. Then, while serving in the U.S. Air Force in World War II, he perfected his golf stroke while stationed in Great Britain.
He opened the Clearview Golf Club when he got home to Ohio after the war, although it wasn’t easy. He worked 18-hour days, was denied a G.I. Loan, and had to take out a second mortgage on his home to make ends meet.
He ended up buying an old dairy farm and cleared much of the heavy work himself, clearing brush, pulling out fence posts and hauling away stones in a wheelbarrow. He seeded the fairways by hand, sometimes helped by his wife Marcella, who died in 1996 after 56 years of marriage. It took 2 years but he was able to open its first 9-hole course by 1948. It took another 30 years to add the next 9 holes to make it a full 18-hole course!
In 1996, Powell was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame and in 1997 was presented Honorary PGA membership. In 1999, his membership was made retroactive to Jan. 1, 1962, thus making Powell a PGA Life Member.
Clearview Golf Club is on the National Register of Historic Places. Powell called it “America’s Course – where the only color that matters is the color of the greens.”
So when you think of African Americans and Golf – think of Bill Powell …. and not that Tiger Woods lowlife….