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Why Stephen Curry’s pledge to fund golf programs at Howard is important

Howard plans to field men and women’s golf teams for the 2020-21 academic year.

Golden State Warriors Girl’s Basketball Camp Photo by Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Stephen Curry and Howard University announced Monday that they would be bringing back the school’s golf program for both men and women at the Division I level for the 2020-21 academic year. Curry’s pledge to help fund the program runs for six years, according to the university’s release.

The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery reported that after a January screening of “Emanuel” — a documentary about the 2015 shooting of nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston — Howard students met Curry, and talked about their love of golf with him.

That inspired Curry to bring competitive golf back to Howard, which has previously had teams at the Division 2 level, and various club teams over the years.

Curry’s a known avid golfer, and is pretty good at the game himself, which isn’t entirely shocking when you consider his revolutionary sharpshooting abilities on the court:

His pledge is an important contribution made to golf’s diversity, with one of the most notable being when Tiger Woods started sending everybody back to the clubhouse in shreds over two decades ago. As Lowery mentions, golf programs at HBCUs are struggling to survive with most money going to more revenue-producing sports like football and basketball. Curry’s putting serious money into making sure this program has a chance to thrive.

“Golf is a sport that has changed my life in ways that are less tangible, but just as impactful,” Curry said in Howard’s release. “It’s a discipline that challenges your mental wherewithal from patience to focus, and is impossible to truly master, so when you hear about these passionate student athletes who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game, it’s tough.”

Golf has never been as accessible for black people in America compared to whites, though they do have a history in the game. Dr. George F. Grant invented the wooden golf tee back in 1899, which is an obviously essential part of the game.

There have also been various great black golfers in the game throughout the years, though like countless other things in the United States, they were left out. The Professional Golf Association of America (PGA) remained all-white until 1961. That’s...not that long ago!

The other important detail of Curry’s pledge is that he’s also making sure there’s a women’s program as well. Women have also not historically been included in golf (or given equal treatment, again, much like in many other walks of life).

One example: it was great when Condoleezza Rice was one of the first two women to be admitted as a member of the Augusta National Golf Club. However, it’s absurd that it took until 2012 for that to happen.

Curry’s pledge isn’t going to fix golf’s diversity and inclusion problem. But it does chip away at it, and it helps bring awareness. That’s a nice step in the right direction.

It seems like the norm today for athletes — especially those in the NBA — to put their fingerprints in many other areas, whether it’s music, film, television, or any other variety of things. Curry’s partnership with Howard University is another example of that, and it’s so refreshing to see superstar athletes like him making sure he uses his platform to improve society.