Cameron Champ helps fund golf scholarships at Prairie View A&M while also honoring his grandfather
Cameron Champ lines up a putt on the second green during the final round of last week's Masters. Champ wore one black and one white shoe as part of his efforts to highlight racial injustice.
Cameron Champ tied for 19th in his Masters debut last week and in the process walked away with a couple of pieces of crystal, rewards for a pair of memorable eagles on the second and eighth holes during the third round. But he also left Augusta National with something much more enduring: Inspiration.
After hearing that Lee Elder, the first Black man to play in the Masters in 1975, would join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an honorary starter for the 2021 tournament and that a pair of scholarships in Elder’s name will be awarded annually to the men’s and women’s golf programs at Paine College, a historically Black college and university in Augusta, Champ felt compelled to do something himself.
On Thursday, Prairie View A&M University, an HBCU in Prairie View, Texas, announced a $40,000 donation from the Cameron Champ Foundation and Chevron to establish two scholarships for its men’s and women’s golf teams. The scholarship fund will be named after Champ’s late grandfather, Mack (Pops) Champ.
“When Lee Elder walked on the Augusta grounds, it sent a message, ‘We belong,’ ” Champ said. “My grandfather had such an incredible influence on my life and always inspired me in many ways. I’m so grateful for Pops introducing me to the game of golf, but also for teaching me that there’s so much more to life than golf. He always stressed the importance of giving back and paying it forward.
“Last week, Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley addressed how access and opportunities are still barriers to the game, and he hit the nail on the head when he said that the time to do more is now,” Champ continued. “That really sparked this idea, and I thought, what better way to honor PaPa Champ than to take up the challenge to do more, right now.”
After his win at 2019 Safeway Open, Cameron Champ celebrates with his father, Jeff Champ, and spoke to his grandfather, Mack, on the phone. Not long after, Mack, who get Cameron into golf as a kid, passed away from stomach cancer.
The mission of Champ’s foundation is to “transform the lives of youth from underserved and underrepresented communities through a focus on athletics, academics and healthy living.” And with the creation of the scholarships, Champ will help further that cause even more.
“Mack Champ was born in Columbus, Texas, in a segregated neighborhood with limited resources. His determination to fight against systemic racism and discrimination fuels our work,” said Glenn Weckerlin, the foundation’s board chairman. “We recognize that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and has placed a heavy burden on the university and its already stretched funding. We are thankful that we can collaborate with such a historic institution to provide deserving student-athletes from diverse backgrounds opportunities that they might not otherwise have. We are delighted to contribute to student dreams and hope our actions will inspire others to follow suit—the time is now.”
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UPDATED, March 24—On Wednesday, the Cameron Champ Foundation and Chevron officially awarded the funds for the Mack Champ Scholarship to Prairie View A&M University in honor of Champ’s late grandfather, who passed away in October 2019 from to Stage IV stomach cancer. In addition to the $40,000 pledged last November to the HBCU for immediate use by the men’s and women’s golf teams, a group of prominent African-American business leaders led by Wendell J. Haskins, who heard about the scholarship’s mission, raised another $63,000.
“It’s amazing.” said two-time PGA Tour winner and co-founder of the foundation Cameron Champ, “Golf is the platform, but it means much more than that.”
According to Jeff Champ, Cameron’s dad, Mack Champ always wanted to attend PVAMU but never got the chance to due to being drafted. This is his way of giving back and paying it forward.
With the PGA Tour’s donation of $100,000, the Mack Champ Scholarship equals a total of $203,000 to date. —Langston Frazier