Ohio’s Michael Hocker writes that the PGA of America’s Distinguished Service Award was presented in Minneapolis recently to PGA Life Member William Powell of East Canton, Ohio, a pioneer in diversity in the game of golf. “This is a really great unknown story — he started an integrated golf course after returning from WWII and specifically chose it to be along the Lincoln Highway.”
The PGA adds that Powell, 92, “overcame racial barriers to become the only African-American to design, build, own and operate a golf course while pioneering diversity in the game.”
“William Powell’s dream to build a golf course where players regardless of the color of their skin would be welcome was a task that he met under great duress, hardship and personal sacrifice,” said PGA of America President Jim Remy. “Yet, Mr. Powell displayed exceptional courage, grace and the finest character while persevering toward his goal of opening Clearview Golf Club….
In September 1946, while denied a G.I. Loan despite serving honorably in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Bill Powell received the financial backing of two black physicians in nearby Canton and Massillon, Ohio, to begin building a public golf course.
Clearview Golf Club remains at 8410 Lincoln Highway/Lincoln St. SE, East Canton, Ohio. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.