By: Stacy M. Brown
Farmers® expands its commitment to help grow diversity in the game of golf through new relationship with the BCGCA focused on supporting and developing college and amateur athletes.
Farmers Insurance® and the Black College Golf Coaches Association (BCGCA) today announced Farmers® as the presenting sponsor of four BCGCA events occurring in 2021-2022, the latest in a series of actions Farmers has taken to help support and grow diversity in professional golf. The Black College Golf Coaches Association’s mission is to enhance and preserve Black college golf programs by fostering the development of coaches and players.
Farmers® is the first sponsor that the BCGCA has announced specific to HBCU golf events. The tournaments that Farmers will support include:
• September 23-26, 2021: BCGCA Hall of Fame Classic presented by Farmers Insurance®, Newnan, GA, Summer Grove Golf Club
• October 23-26, 2021: BCGCA Black College Classic presented by Farmers Insurance®, Gulf Shores, AL,
• March 13-15, 2022: BCGCA HBCU Invitational presented by Farmers Insurance ®, Houston, TX, Sterling Country Club
• April 2022 (exact dates TBA): BCGCA National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship presented by Farmers Insurance®, Atlanta, GA, Callaway Gardens
In addition to sponsoring BCGCA tournaments, Farmers Insurance plans to provide access to learn more about available coaching, internships and other resources for BCGCA players to help further support their career development and professional aspirations.
“We hope that working with the BCGCA can help further our efforts to foster diversity in the game and create opportunities for players to grow through their college experience,” said Jenny Howell Head of Brand and Consumer Marketing for Farmers Insurance. “Providing players at HBCUs with access to professional development, career fairs and networking opportunities as well as golf training facilities can help empower these college and amateur athletes to pursue careers in golf on the course and off. We look forward to engaging with the BCGCA and its players to help more HBCU golfers achieve their dreams of playing golf professionally.”
“Farmers Insurance has shown incredible support in further diversifying golf through their efforts with the APGA Tour and beyond,” said BCGCA President Craig Bowen. “To have them support these four events will not only provide HBCU programs and players with additional opportunities to compete and hone their game, but also show the rest of the corporate community that they can make a difference. This is a pivotal moment for golf at HBCUs and with organizations like Farmers taking the lead, I truly believe that we can make a difference in this great sport.”
Farmers has a proud history of championing diversity in the golf space. The national insurer group has provided funding for APGA TOUR events and the organization’s athletes, sponsored players including Kamaiu Johnson and Willie Mack III, hosted the first-ever APGA event at a PGA TOUR tournament at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open® and provided Mack with a sponsor’s exemption into the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open.
Several APGA Tour players recently shared their thoughts on why HBCUs and the support that Farmers is giving the BCGCA are both so important to the growth of diversity in the game.
“I was going to attend Michigan State and I wanted to go somewhere that the culture fit and where I could start something and help others follow in my footsteps,” said Willie Mack III, recent APGA Tour Championship winner and 11-time tournament winner at Bethune Cookman. “When I hopefully reach the PGA TOUR full time, it will show other kids like me that it’s possible. A lot of the HBCUs don’t have a place to practice or play every day. If they can play at better courses and have better facilities, golf clubs and match some of the elements of bigger schools, it will make a huge difference. The school I played for is no longer offering a men’s golf program. So I’m just hopeful they can get golf to return as a program and get things going in the right direction. Support like this from Farmers is a huge step and hopefully more companies will join in to support golf at HBCUs.”
“I wanted to have a college experience with kids that were predominantly African American and Florida A&M provided that for me,” said Mulbe Dillard, who recently finished atop the inaugural APGA Collegiate Ranking. “Having Farmers support HBCUs is huge and we need more companies and support to increase the level of our facilities and resources. Bigger schools have resources, facilities and equipment that can help better prepare their players for success. I think the biggest difference is other schools play and practice on courses and conditions that prepare them for what they will face in a tournament, while many HBCUs simply don’t. Right now, it’s difficult to find African American kids to compete. The more support HBCUs receive, the better the facilities can be, the better the pathway is for HBCU athletes into professional golf and the better these coaches will be able to recruit.”
“It was pretty special to be able to play college golf with other black golfers who were on the same level as I was with the same dreams. It was really eye opening,” said Alabama A&M graduate Rovonta Young. “Everyone pushes each other. Everyone is there for the same reason. Farmers getting involved is great. With Farmers backing a lot of events it will open up opportunities. A lot of black players don’t have the same opportunities to develop at an early age, so having HBCUs as an avenue to progress and get to the next level is vital to increase diversity in the game. Funding is a problem. These guys need access to top-level golf courses. In the summer, after the season, they are playing in U.S. Am qualifiers, U.S. Open qualifiers and State Opens, and the caliber of golf courses are top tier compared to what HBCUs practice on and these players have the game, but generally don’t have the access to top level clubs. This can make for an uneven playing field.”
“When I got to Florida A&M, it was great to just see people that looked like me progress and excel in every endeavor that they pursued. That motivated me even more,” said recent Florida A&M graduate Cameron Riley who finished 4th in the APGA Collegiate Rankings. “The biggest step that we have to create a more level playing field is access to good courses, good coaching, good equipment. In Tallahassee, we didn’t have a home course until my senior year. We bounced around, played on driving ranges that simply weren’t up to speed with other facilities. Then we show up to courses at regionals and we are playing on greens that are 13 or 14 on the stimpmeter and we aren’t used to those conditions. Sponsors like Farmers, big ups to them for helping us with more access. Giving us better resources and better access is key and it’s great that organizations like Farmers are trying to help.”
For more information about the Black College Golf Coaches Association, visit https://www.hbcugolf.org. To learn more about Farmers commitment to the game, visit Farmers.com/Golf.