Wanting more diversity in golf and actually making that happen are two very different things. Admittedly, the golf business is oftentimes not a true reflection of society.
That’s why the Troon Diversity and Inclusion Council has been formed to create a broader representation of people within the golf, tennis, and hospitality areas served by the company. While there is still much progress to make, many Troon associates are working hard to make the game more inclusive, serving as role models to those with diverse backgrounds and inspiring people of color who may be seeking careers in golf at Troon or elsewhere. With February being Black History Month, we’re proud to share the stories of four leaders representing clubs within the Troon Golf, Troon Privé, OB Sports, and Indigo Golf Partners brands.
Arizona natives Daryl Crawford and his twin brother Derek figured out early on they were going to be either professional golfers or golf professionals. They chose the latter and have never looked back. Daryl, general manager of the OB Sports-managed Papago Golf Course in Phoenix since 2015, started his career four decades ago in the bag room at Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch Golf Club. “I enjoyed those days immensely,” he said. “You always had some money in your pocket and there was always time to play golf before or after your shift.”
PGA Tour golfer Calvin Peete was one inspiration, but a key mentor of Crawford’s was Bill Dickey, a family friend who was a member of the Desert Mashie Golf Club, a Phoenix-based organization founded by 10 African-American men in 1946. “Mr. Dickey was a mentor and a second father to my brother and I,” said Crawford. “He provided a path for us and many others interested in getting into the game, whether through mentoring or raising scholarship money. He and my parents both believed that you are always there to help people.”
Crawford does so in part by serving on the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association board along with his brother. “From our perspective we’re trying to ‘give back’ by following in Bill’s footsteps. Our mission is to raise money provide young people of color with scholarships and opportunities in competitive golf and the business world,” he said. “The First Tee has done a great job, as has Youth On Course. Things have gotten better in terms of minorities playing the game, but when I look at the overall landscape golf still lacks diversity in the game. 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. We all have to do our part.”
Crawford who shared the Arizona Golf Association’s 2020 Updegraff Award with his brother for exemplifying the spirit of the game, has simple advice for those looking to succeed in the golf industry, whatever their race or gender. “Do your work really, really well and people will find you,” he said. “Operators want people who can help them to become financially successful and bring good people to the team. I’ve always said that I’m not going to get 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.”
Growing up in East Chicago, Indiana, Steven Outlaw didn’t have to look far for a role model in golf. “My dad (Jimmy Outlaw Jr.) played on his high school team in the mid-1960s,” he said. “His passion became my profession. He and my mother worked in the steel mills and I come from a hard-working family.”
After graduating from Georgetown College in Kentucky (he was one of the first African-Americans to play golf in the Mid-South Conference), 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 ways to go.”
He began his Troon in 2008 career with an internship. “If not for John Easterbook and Dana Garmany, I might have gone down done a different path,” said the 35–year-old. Currently director of golf at Wickenburg Ranch & Social Club, a Troon-managed property in Arizona, Outlaw has worked around the world. “I’ve been in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi Golf Club) and in Malaysia (Els Club Teluk Datai), and have been around many diverse groups. That’s given me a different perspective on life, the golf industry, and how many lives this game does touch.”
Outlaw credits a number of trailblazers who came before him. “People like Joe Louis Barrow, Mark Lowry, and Dedrick Holmes of The First Tee; Michael Cooper of Urban Golfer LLC; and Kennie Sims at the Tampa Golf Authority have given me direction and advice when I needed it,” he said. “They have been through the same experiences that I’m going through now. I just want to be a role model and lend an ear to young people and help out wherever it’s needed. I feel like I owe it to the generation that comes after to me to do everything I can to make sure they have the same opportunities that I had.”
Outlaw believes progress in diversity starts on the grass roots level with organizations like The First Tee, the United Golfers Association, and the Advocates Pro Golf Association tour. “Being the country’s largest third-party course management company, we at Troon can also play a big part into getting minorities into the golf industry at all levels,” he said. “If juniors can see someone who looks like them in different positions, that might foster some interest about a career in golf.”
The roars he heard after scoring touchdowns as a wide receiver and kick returner for the University of Florida in the early 1990s still give Monty Duncan chills. But these days he’s just as satisfied when a kid he worked with years ago at The First Tee chapter in St. Johns County, Florida, comes to his office and tells him what they learned at college.
“The thrill of seeing a light bulb moment go off in a kid’s head, when they’re able to put that bit of knowledge about golf or life away for the future, yeah, that’s better than 95,000 people roaring,” he said. “Seeing a kid get it is pretty special.”
After a neck injury ended his football career prior to his senior year Duncan turned to golf, starting at St. Johns Golf Club in northeast Florida, where 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 of the Brentwood Golf Course, a 9-hole facility managed by Indigo Golf Partners that’s located near downtown Jacksonville.
“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 getting people of color working inside the golf shop instead of working 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 believes that the goal of everyone being equal starts with treating everyone equally. “If someone I mentor or who looks up to me doesn’t look like me, but still feels comfortable talking to me, then I’m really doing my job,” he said.
“What I want to do is go to work every day and try to do the best job I can do,” he added. “If people see that I’m trying to do things the right way and they notice that, then it’s a good thing. But it doesn’t mean I’m out trying to do something different than what I do every day. That’s when you get into trouble. All we can do is to do the best we can every day. If someone notices, then that means we’ve done something well.”
Rich Jones was 23 and working as a media planner in New York City when he was introduced to golf at a client outing in New Jersey. Instantly smitten, he immediately went out afterwards and bought his first set of clubs. He switched careers and started working as a tech rep for PING Golf in 1997, the same year Tiger Woods won his first Masters.
“Watching him I felt inspired,” said Jones. “Here was this young African–American guy not only playing in The Masters, but also destroying the field. There was a personal sense of pride watching him play; and because there weren’t too many guys on the golf course that looked like us, I started to dream of becoming that kind of inspiration to others.” Today, Jones is the director of instruction at the Pine Ridge Golf Club, managed by Indigo Golf Partners, in Coram, New York. In 2020 he became the first Met Section professional ever at to win the PGA of America’s National Player Development Award.
He credits valuable guidance and advice from three late friends and African-American role models – Harvey Palmore, Oscar McFadden and George Williams – for additional inspiration. “They were all accomplished athletes who became educators and coaches. They belonged to a group that played golf every Saturday around Long Island,” he said. “They encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and helped me develop my own personal vision for a career in golf.”
Jones now builds on the legacy of his mentors by teaching and sharing his experiences with the next generation interested in the golf industry. “My advice is to go for it,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but if golf is your passion, then definitely pursue it. The industry is in need of diverse representation in all areas. I don’t recall a time when the golf industry has been so ready to receive diverse talent and become a more inclusive workforce than it is today.”
He recommends five steps for those interested in pursuing a golf career: Find a trusted mentor; be prepare by reading, researching, and networking; think outside the box and find what makes you unique; stay current with technology; and keep things simple and fun.
“Breaking into a predominantly white space continues to be a difficult challenge,” he said. “Navigating those waters is a constant and exhausting process that can discourage the best of us. It will continue to discourage us until we become the examples for others to follow. I certainly faced some obstacles starting out, and others before me faced much worse. But I’m thankful because my overall career as a PGA Professional has been extremely positive and rewarding, and I hope to inspire others as others have inspired me.”
Read more stories of the golf world from Tom Mackin and his articles for TROON Magazine.