Black History Month

Troon is proud to celebrate Black History Month and honor the achievements of black Americans throughout our nation’s history. While progress continues to take place across the golf industry, Troon is working to make the game more inclusive and accessible for all communities. Many Troon associates serve as role models, sharing their stories of adversity and triumph in hopes of inspiring those with diverse backgrounds to seek careers in golf, tennis and hospitality. Below are some of the thoughts from Troon Associates on what Black History Month means to them.

Kendall Murphy

Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Kendall Murphy - Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Kendall Murphy - Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

In November of 2021, Troon announced Kendall Murphy as the company’s first Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In this new position, Murphy is helping to lead and manage the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, while working with Troon’s DEI Council, Troon associates, as well as members and guests of Troon-affiliated facilities, to accomplish DEI goals and objectives.

We sat down with Kendall for a Q&A session to get a better understanding of his history with golf and to talk about his new position.

Q: When and where was your first time on the golf course and who were you with?

I first started playing golf when I was 10 years old in Oakland, CA at Lake Chabot Golf Course. I was with my neighbor who was an avid black golfer and he wanted me to experience this great game and I am forever grateful he did.

Q: What draws you into the game of golf?

Golf will challenge you in all aspects, from mental to physical to your competitive spirit. It forces you to focus on you as an individual and the ways you can make changes to improve. Of which, I think translates into everyday life in that we have to take accountability as individuals for how we show up every single day. The game of golf has also molded me into the man that I am today with the core principles of honor, integrity, and etiquette it instills.

Q: As a professor, what advice did you offer your students who may be interested in hospitality and/or a sports career to attract them to the golf business?

When I had opportunities to interact with students or juniors that were interested in the hospitality industry and/or careers in sports, the conversation to attract them to golf was easy. Golf is a natural transition because of the built-in hospitality foundation that is inherent within the industry. It is also an 84-billion-dollar industry with a plethora of career opportunities from golf operations to accounting to agronomy. The opportunities are endless.

Q: What motivates you to make a difference in the golf industry and as Troon’s first Director of DEI?

I am motivated to make a difference because not only is it the right thing to do but it is how we make progress for future generations. With all great things: the more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible, the more of an impact they can have. I see a future where both this great game and amazing industry can look like the melting pot that is America. Tha can only be achieved by setting the precedent of being more welcoming and inclusive, from the top to the bottom.  My position at Troon gives me the opportunity to continue to grow this vision, which I am grateful for.

Q: If you could pick any three people (dead or alive) to golf with, who would they be?

Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, and Jamie Foxx

Q: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you (that you don’t mind sharing)?

Most people probably don’t know (or believe) that I am an introvert at heart.

Monty Duncan

General Manager - Brentwood Golf Course

For Monty Duncan, Black History Month is important because it’s a time when some great Americans who most people have never heard about get highlighted for their contributions to our society. “It is also a great reminder of how little and how far we have come as a country,” said Duncan, general manager of Brentwood Golf Course, a nine-hole facility managed by Troon’s Indigo Sports brand and located near downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

That includes the golf industry, which Duncan acknowledges has been slow moving when it comes to inclusion. “There is progress being made in playing as we see partnership with the APGA and the PGA, and also with fittings and exemptions being provided for members of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities),” he said. “As far as careers, I think there is more that could be done. A lot of African Americans just don’t realize how many careers are available in the golf industry and they shy away from researching the industry. Knowledge is needed.”

After a neck injury ended his football career prior to his senior year at the University of Florida, Duncan turned to golf. Starting at St. Johns Golf Club in northeast Florida, he did everything from working in the bag room to becoming an integral part of the local First Tee chapter. In 2015, he became general manager at Brentwood.

“I think there’s still a question of when a person of color works in the golf shop, how will guests deal with that person behind the register?” he said. “To a certain extent, the biggest obstacle is giving people of color the opportunity to work inside the golf shop instead of outside on the maintenance crew or doing the carts. I drive an hour to and from home every day because the opportunity to be a general manager was here. I couldn’t wait for that opportunity, I had to take it when it became available.”

Duncan has some simple advice for people of color interested in working in the golf industry. “Be the example,” he said. “Golf is a wonderful industry with many paths. Find something you love and chase it down.”

Monty Duncan

Steven Outlaw

Director of Golf - Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club

Steven Outlaw

Black History Month is a time for reflection and education according to Steve Outlaw, director of golf at Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club, a Troon-managed property in Arizona. “More importantly, it’s a celebration of those who’ve impacted not just the country but the world with their activism and achievements,” he said. “It offers an opportunity to reimagine what possibilities lie ahead.”

Outlaw believes the golf industry has been taking great strides at the playing level with organizations like the Advocates Pro Golf Tour, founded in 2010 to bring greater diversity to professional golf. In terms of career growth, there are  opportunities through the PGA and PGA Works, along with programs such as PGA LEAD, which was created to identify, mentor, and progress PGA Members from diverse backgrounds along a guided path to volunteer leadership roles within the Association. “It’s great to also see Troon continue to be a trendsetter in the industry with the formation of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council, and bringing in the expertise of Kendall Murphy to lead that effort.”

Outlaw’s passion for the golf industry started with his participation in The First Tee as a teenager growing up in Indiana and while at Georgetown College in Kentucky, where he was one of the first African-Americans to play golf in the Mid-South Conference.  “It also gave me insight into how much more help was needed, particularly for communities of color,” he said. “I had the opportunity of growing up around some great golf professionals, who took time out of their busy schedules to mentor and further help develop my skill sets.”

Outlaw was part of the first class at the PGA of America’s post–university diversity program in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “We want the game to mirror society more and it doesn’t right now,” he said. “I think we have 185 African Americans within the PGA of America, and the organization has 29,000 members. We have a long way to go.”

What continues to drive and inspire Outlaw today are the countless individuals he knew of growing up, and still knows today, who were just as qualified as he was but were not presented with the same opportunities. “In an industry so vast, with countless opportunities, we still have a way to go to ensure the next generation is in a better position to succeed,” he said.

Brandon Howard

Head Golf Processional - Somerby Golf Club

Q: Is there someone you credit to bringing you into the game of golf and keeping the fire going?

A: My father. He first brought me to the driving range when I was 8 years old. He was also newer to the game so it was a great opportunity to learn something together. However, I credit both my parents for helping me keep the fire going! From my first nine holes, to qualifying for the Wisconsin State Championship in high school, to getting my first Assistant Professional job, they have motivated me the whole way through and supported every move.

Q: How long have you been with Troon?

Altogether 3 years, I have also worked at Troon properties in Leesburg, VA and Tucson, AZ.

Q: Why is Black History Month important to you and how is the golf industry taking strides in making the game more accessible, both at the playing level, as well as for a career in the golf industry?

A: Black History Month is important to me because it reminds us as a society of the sacrifices and achievements that have been made in American history. Although, Black History should never be limited to just one month, February should be used to remind us all how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go. I believe the golf industry is doing a good job at attempting to make the game more accessible to all. With the amount of established junior programs across the country, such as the First Tee, soon we will start to see a change in who we see playing at the higher collegiate and professional levels.

I believe we as an industry need to push more, to show the significance in having a career in golf. But for now, the opportunities that are in place will slowly gain more and more traction. We’ve come a few miles since 1961 and the PGA of America’s Caucasian-only clause, but we still have many more miles to go.

Q: If you could pick any three people (dead or alive) to golf with, who would they be?

A; My father, Tiger Woods and Dewey Brown (if you’re a golf professional that doesn’t know his story, take a few minutes to do some research and learn his significance).

Q: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you (that you don’t mind sharing)?

A: My eclectic taste in music, specifically when I’m practicing: Thundercat, James Blake, Masego, Xavier Omär and FARR are my usual practice session go-tos.

Brandon Howard

Rich Jones

District Manager Golf Galaxy - Long Island, New York

Rich Jones

Rich Jones believes Black history is important for all of us. Why? Because Black history is history. “Yes, it allows us to remember and honor those who have paved a way, but it should also remind us of the struggles and challenges many continue to face today,” said Jones, director of instruction at the Pine Ridge Golf Club, managed by Indigo Sports, in Coram, New York. “It should encourage and motivate everyone to work against, diminish or eliminate those continuing barriers.”

As a PGA member for more than 18 years, Jones is proud of the many recent strides taken to make the game and industry more accessible on the local, section, and national levels. “As a result of my participation in the PGA Lead program, I currently serve on the executive board of directors as Secretary of the Metropolitan PGA Section,” he said. “I am just one example and have recently witnessed a growing number of African-American members becoming involved in governance, both locally and nationally.”

Jones points to PGA WORKS as another great example of the many strides the PGA is making to increase accessibility. The program, championed by another African-American PGA member, Scooter Clark, includes the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship. One of the most culturally significant tournaments in collegiate golf, it annually hosts student-athletes enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving educational institutions. “In May 2021, 162 students from 41 schools competed at TPC Sawgrass,” said Jones. “My son and daughter played in the championship in 2021, representing Howard University.”

Jones is also incredibly proud of the growing number of organizations that create opportunities for African-Americans to play the game. Those include the APGA Tour and the John Shippen Foundation, which enable African-Americans to compete at a professional or amateur level and earn exemptions to PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events. Other black-owned businesses are also making their mark on the golf industry, such as Eastside Golf, Deuce, and In the Number. “It’s both beautiful and refreshing to see all the growing opportunities within the industry today,” he said.

For people of color interested in working in the golf industry, Jones offers the same advice he gives to his own children. “First, seek out an internship within the industry,” he said. “Also, find a mentor who will help you navigate your way within the golf industry. I know how important it is to have someone to share their experiences, knowledge, and skills that will help you develop further. You can start your search for one within your local PGA section. Then, pay it back by finding someone you can mentor, help and inspire along the way. The resources are out there, but you have to be proactive. It won’t happen automatically, but if you seek it out, you will be surprised what resources you may find.”

Daryl Crawford

General Manager, Papago Golf Course

Black History Month highlights the struggles and successes of people of color for all to see. “It’s educational and relevant and inspiring… and necessary,” he said. “Change is slow.”

But it is happening. Take the Farmers Insurance sponsorship of the APGA (Advocates Pro Golf Association) Tour’s 36-hole tournament at Torrey Pines in San Diego last month, which included televised final round coverage for the first-time ever on Golf Channel. “An international audience was introduced to highly-skilled African American golfers,” said Crawford. “Some will be playing on the PGA Tour soon. 3-time PGA Tour winner Cameron Chance’s foundation is acquainting young people of color to the game. The PGA of America stays committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the process of making the game and the business diverse. The First Tee as well as Youth on Course are also supportive.”

While Crawford acknowledges that things have gotten better in terms of minorities playing the game, he also recognizes that the overall golf landscape still lacks diversity. “It takes a village… everyone in the game is responsible for growing the game, whether that’s bringing in more women, people of color, young or old,” he said. “We all have to do our part.”

Crawford, who shared the Arizona Golf Association’s 2020 Updegraff Award with his brother Derek (the general manager at Coldwater Golf Club in Avondale, Ariz.) for exemplifying the spirit of the game, has some straightforward advice for those looking to succeed in the golf industry.

“Work hard and do your homework,” he said. “Companies and organizations are looking for qualified African Americans to bring into their workforce. The golf business is filled with different types of opportunities beyond working at a golf club.  Golf club manufacturers, apparel companies, and golf management companies all service the golf industry. Operators want people who can help them to become financially successful and bring good people to the team.”

One philosophy Crawford has followed throughout his career is never getting outworked. “I’m going to make sure that people who come to the course and engage with me will understand how important they are to where I am and to our business. It’s not about me. It’s about them.”

Daryl Crawford