By Design – Issue 49, Summer 2020

ASGCA DONALD ROSS AWARD Richard Humphreys speaks with 2020 ASGCA Donald Ross Award recipient Renee Powell. R enee Powell was just a small child when her father, World War II veteran Bill Powell, became the first African American to design and build his own golf course. Having raised funds to purchase a former dairy farm on the outskirts of East Canton, Ohio, he moved his family to the site and began laying out nine holes. Clearview Golf Club opened in 1948 welcoming everyone. In a time of racial segregation, it introduced black people to golf. By the time Bill Powell started to design a second nine, thirty years later, his daughter had become a highly accomplished golfer, having dominated youth events in the area, captained the Ohio State University golf team, then joined the LPGA— following former tennis star Althea Gibson to become the tour’s second black player—in 1967. Powell also played throughout Europe in the 1970s and by the end of the decade turned to teaching golf. She eventually returned to her family club, in 1995 becoming Clearview’s head professional, a role she holds to this day. Powell now devotes much of her time to charitable endeavors, including the Clearview Legacy Foundation for Education, Preservation and Turfgrass Research. Her achievements in golf have been recognized by many, not least by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews, who invited her to become one of the first female honorary members in 2015. Congratulations on being named the ASGCA Donald Ross Award winner for 2020. How does that feel? Receiving the award is extremely special to me, knowing it is given to an individual who has made contributions to the game of golf and the profession of golf course architecture. Being around golf courses my entire life is what makes this award very dear to my heart. Although I was mostly on the LPGA Tour when my dad was building the second nine at Clearview in 1978, I was able to walk the land, ask him questions and see his vision. Golf course designers and architects are artists and preservers of the land. Donald Ross was an apprentice to Old Tom Morris at St Andrews and, Giving hope golf through Photo: courtesy of Renee Powell 22 | By Design