Black golfers scarce at Hazeltine, plentiful at Emerald Greens

First of a two-part column

Photo by Charles Hallman : (l-r) Dennis Blue, Lynnette Landry, Glen Stubbs

The Twin Cities this weekend will see golfers all over, but will any Blacks be among them? As it happens, there will be quite a few. Although Mariah Stackhouse is expected to be the only Black golfer in the field of 155 for the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine (she is No. 139 on this year’s LPGA money), fortunately, another tournament offers greater diversity.

Organizers of the fifth annual Twin Cities Par Seekers tournament are expecting Blacks of all genders, locals as well as out-of-town golfers of color, on June 22 and 23 at Emerald Greens Golf Course in Hastings. The tournament planning committee, save for finance director Kenneth Carter, are all local Black golf club members: Dennis Blue and Kevin Foote of the Traverlers; Ramona McCree, Lisa Lissimore and Lynnette Landry of Black Women On Course; and Everett Pettiford, Henry Rucker and Glen Stubbs of the Twin City Golf Club.

SEE ALSO: Lone Black pro golfer belies sport’s ‘diversity’

Blue, Landry and Stubbs stepped away from a meeting at Hiawatha Park last week to talk with the MSR.

“It gives us a chance to put Minnesota on the map and to bring some of our better golfers out to play…to compete against other [Black] golfers from the Midwest,” Blue explained.

“It’s a lot of work planning this tournament,” Landry added. She said it also lets Black kids “come out and see that there are people like them out there doing this.”

“This tournament might not be as high ranking as the PGA Tour,” Stubbs observed, “but a lot of amateurs play this and they feel like they’re pros.”

The Par Seekers is a “flighted” tournament where golfers’ first-round scores are bracketed for the subsequent round or rounds. Two 18-hole courses are scheduled, one each on Saturday and Sunday. Also scheduled is a banquet Friday night at Bloomington’s Airport Hilton “whether you play golf or not,” Blue said.

Landry said the entire weekend event is “like family. We’ve gotten so spread out over the country that it’s harder and harder for us to come together.”

All three longtime golfers admit that the sport’s historically exclusionary image still exists.  Yet Blacks still find a way to play it anyhow. “You see more [Blacks] doing it recreationally,” Landry said. 

“Yes, that image is always going to be there,” Stubbs agreed. “Tiger [Woods] actually opened a few doors.”

“We have 27 trophies to give away,” Blue said of this weekend’s tournament. “You want to validate your game, play in this tournament.”

Proceeds from the Par Seekers tourney will go to the Sannah Foundation, a local youth development organization. “Each successive year we continue to grow and donate part of the proceeds to charity,” Blue noted.

“This is the only amateur tournament of its kind in the Twin Cities,” he added. “This is where you want to come…the third week of June.”

Our discussion on Blacks and golf will continue next week.