Vying to Beat the Golfing Odds
Former Furman University golf star Dara Broadus is determined to take her place in the LPGA Tour.
Most of the golfers at the 2004 Queenstown Maryland Futures Tour had
caddies who calculated the exact distance to the flag. Most of the caddies had yardage books that revealed the contours and dimensions of the green and predicted the ideal target for the important approach shot. And most of the golfers were probably unconcerned about how they’d get back to their hotel or how they’d pay the $400 entry fee for the following week’s tour stop. But for one of the two Black golfers in the field at last year’s Maryland tournament, these factors made finding the green on the critical ninth hole even more problematic. The result? Another missed green, another missed cut.
Welcome to the world of former college player and aspiring LPGA member Dara Broadus.
“I know that I could play a lot better if I had the support that I needed to focus all of my energies on my game,” says Broadus, who has been pursuing an LPGA tour card since she graduated from Furman University’s legendary golf program in 2001.
Like thousands of others pursuing the same goal, Broadus’s quest is a long shot at best. But if she were to break through and get her tour card, she would be only the fourth Black female — and the first since LaRee Sugg, who joined the tour in 1995 — to participate in the increasingly lucrative and competitive world of women’s professional golf.
Broadus is a realist about what it takes to get to the next level. The primary barrier to realizing her dream is simple, yet daunting.
“The financial support makes all the difference,” she says. “I spend a great deal of time figuring out ways to get before people who are willing to invest in me.”
She has lined up about 20 financial supporters, including an emerging Los Angeles energy drink company, an executive at a major international food chain and close family members and friends.
Broadus acknowledges she has a tough road ahead, especially given the stiff competition from an ever-increasing pool of American prodigies and talented young foreign players. A major question is whether she can draw on her college experience to maintain her competitive edge.
After an outstanding high school career in Atlanta, Broadus was recruited by several top programs, including the University of Southern California and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She chose Furman, a small but well-financed university located in the foothills of Greenville, S.C.
“I chose Furman because it has a great tradition, was an elite academic institution, it was close to my hometown of Atlanta and they had a great coach, Mic Potter, who saw the potential in me,” Broadus says.
She bristles when asked how the first Black superstar will be received by the LPGA. It’s a question that comes up fairly often.
“The LPGA is a business. Anybody who is going to improve the LPGA’s image and popularity is going to be welcomed,” Broadus says. “They operate on a show-me-what-you-can-do-first philosophy. The PGA Tour didn’t develop Tiger Woods; his father paid the price, even though the PGA Tour now makes millions because of him.”
Broadus says until Black and Hispanic families, neighborhoods and communities start paying more attention to golf, the minority pipeline will stay nearly nonexistent.
“Things really aren’t getting better because I know of only a few [minorities] at the NCAA Division I level who are playing. I think that there were more playing back with LaRee and Denise Woodward than there are now. I really can’t think of anyone out there right now,” she says.
With the constant financial and competitive challenges, compounded by limited success, including a career best 35th in a Futures Tour event back in 2002, one would think that Broadus would have second thoughts about continuing her career. But she draws motivation from her financial backers and the people who encourage her dreams, particularly her family and friends.
“Their faith in me keeps me going. They understand that it takes support, time and talent to get to the highest levels of this profession,” she says. “Unfortunately, many others don’t understand this. I also, of course, support myself by working full time for part of the year and by teaching golf lessons.”
These days Broadus, who has a degree in business administration, spends her time competing whenever and wherever her funds will allow.
“I don’t always have the resources to pay the $400 entry fee to play on Future Tour events, so I’ll play on the Moonlight Tour, which only costs $50,” she says. “The key is to work with my coach, play smart, compete as often as possible and try to get better and better.”
And as for her future, Broadus says, “I plan to be in this indefinitely. I’m in it for the long haul.”
— By FLM
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com