News & ToursDecember 31, 2009

'God wanted people to know the mark that he left on this nation'

William Powell was a golfer of not inconsiderable skills that generally were worthless at the time for no other reason than this: He was an African-American. When Powell returned from honorable service in the European theater in World War II, the PGA's Caucasian-only clause kept him from pursuing a playing career. Undeterred, Powell set about forging a career in golf in another manner. He built a course.

Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio, opened with nine holes in 1948 to became the first course in the U.S. designed, owned and operated by an African-American. The course, now on the National Register of Historic Places, became his legacy. Powell, 93, died on Thursday afternoon in a hospital in Canton from complications from a stroke he suffered on Sunday night.

Only this month, Powell was honored by the PGA of America, which presented him its Distinguished Service Award.

He is survived by his daughter Renee, a PGA of America member and former LPGA player. "My father made a mark," she told the PGA of America. "And I believe that God wanted people to know the mark that he left on this nation."

-- John Strege

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