CHARLOTTE (N.C.) — Before the Presidents Cup in fall last year, Quail hollow Club brought HBCU golf to the forefront by hosting six of the top programs at the inaugural Charlie Sifford Centenary Cup.
With the help of Wells Fargo, First Tee and other sponsors, three HBCU athletes were once again featured at the crown jewel of Queen City on Wednesday.
First Tee alumni Kai Dawson, Ahmad Raoul and Nyla Sims played in the pro-am of the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship with three-time Wells Fargo champion Rory McIlroy. They then hosted a First Tee Clinic to support Greater Charlotte Chapter alongside PGA Tour Players like Joseph Bramlett Austin Eckroat Trelinax Mullinax.
“I want to see the game more colorful.” It’s a huge step towards my dream of diversifying the game to see all these kids coming out to watch the clinic. Raoul has dreams to make it to the PGA Tour once he graduates from college. “I’d like to see more children who look like me play golf. This is a great opportunity for me to be a role-model to these children, introduce myself and have them follow a different path from what I did growing up, with better access to technology, courses like this.
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“I have kids back home in West Palm Beach and my coach called this morning. He said, ‘The children miss you, they are upset that you are gone, but they all root for you.'” Sims, now a teacher for First Tee, explained. It made me feel emotional, because I am really making a difference. I get to introduce them to golf, and do the same thing the First Tee has done for me. It’s been amazing.
Dawson’s experience wasn’t new. Dawson is a role-model for his sister Zoe, 11, who began playing golf at age 7 and participates now in the local First Tee chapter.
The opportunity to play with McIlroy was a first. He is a four-time Major Champion and world No. 3.
Dawson added, “It was a great honor to be able to play on the PGA Tour.”
Raoul said, “This was probably the most motivating thing I have ever experienced in my career.” “We took pictures with Rory and I said, I hope to see ya one day here’, and he replied, I hope so too’. That really stuck with me, and it motivated me to push myself even harder. I had backup plans in my head, but this one is the plan I want to achieve.
The Grow the Game phrase is a cliche that has been overused in golf. However, it accurately describes the Quail hollow range. Wells Fargo is proud to be the “Bank of Doing” and their commitment to bringing the game to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to play it (more than 100 First Tee players were present on Wednesday) shows that the title means more than a self-proclaimed slogan.