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Teeing Off With Bill Dickey

Teeing Off With Bill Dickey

In 1982, a Black man hitting the links in Phoenix was something of a rare site. Fast forward 25 years and Bill Dickey has made a direct and tangible contribution to the world of African-Americans and golf.

Dickey, now 79, has always been a self-described “golf nut.” Instead of sitting back and enjoying the rewards of a successful real estate career, he chose another path.

“There weren’t many [Black] kids playing golf,” Dickey says. “What I originally wanted to do was start a program where kids could come and get involved with golf and learn the game.

Twenty-five years ago, Dickey created the National Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association, which has awarded $2.1 million to more than 900 college students since its inception.

Renamed the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association last year, the organization  in June will hold the 8th Annual Bill Dickey Invitational, which provides an opportunity for the nation’s best minority high school golfers to meet and compete against each other.

It also includes a workshop covering scholarship oppor-tunities and internships.

Last year’s BDI winner, Stanford University freshman Joseph Bramlett, recently wrapped up a successful first season as a member of the Cardinal men’s golf team. He finished the season ranked 46th in the country.

Dickey has mentored countless other young golfers.

“I was a junior in high school in Winston-Salem, and I think [Dickey] was in town for a tournament,” recalls Sam Puryear, who is now the men’s assistant golf coach at Stanford. “I was hitting balls at my local course and I noticed him watching me. After a while, he comes over to me and says, ‘Are you interested in playing golf in college?’”

That chance encounter with Dickey landed Puryear at historically Black Tennessee State University. He was offered a scholarship after Dickey contacted TSU’s golf coach.

“Back in those days, HBCUs didn’t have recruiting budgets for golf, so everything was by word of mouth,” Puryear says.

Dickey’s association has successfully snagged both private and corporate donations. Scheduled for Jan. 17-20, the annual East/West Golf Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz., serves as the primary fund-raiser for the association.

“I think Bill’s organization is primed to be the perfect vehicle to make a change in the game,” Puryear says. “And what we need to do is rally around and support the association and give the resources needed to make that happen.”

And if that happens, the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association will almost certainly enjoy another 25 years helping young golfers reach their full potential.

— By Frank J. Matthews

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