SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The TPC Harding Park golf course witnessed history on Sept. 18 and 19 as the second annual USF-Howard Intercollegiate got underway.
The golf tournament is shaking up a game built on tradition. The first competition was held last year on the East Coast at TPC Potomac.
"My brother is actually a member of TPC Potomac back in Washington, D.C.," Jack Kennedy, USF men's head golf coach, said. "We were trying to get Howard some access to practice at TPC Potomac and we thought the best way to get them access was to put on a golf tournament and give the club some money."
There's a reason people say "money talks." Their idea worked. Last year, nine teams participated. This year, 13 teams played. The tournament puts an emphasis on including historically Black colleges and universities, like Howard, and also schools from the region and Ivy Leagues.
"I think the partnership has worked out well for all parties, so we're excited about that," Kennedy said.
"Golf needs this, the inclusive piece," Sam Puryear, Howard's head men's golf coach, said. "Everyone who enjoys it should have the opportunity to compete and play. I think that's what this tournament is doing. We're showcasing a lot of great programs, some of whom may not have an opportunity to play together."
According to Golf Digest, of the nearly 29,000 PGA of America members, fewer than one percent are Black. Less than 10 percent are women. Young girls could be spotted at the Howard-USF First Tee clinic for kids ahead of the tournament.
"The college kids were running the clinic and giving back to the kids of the future of golf which was really special," Kennedy said. "It was more important than the golf tournament really."
The Bay Area connections run deep for the Howard Bison. In 2019, Warriors star Stephen Curry donated millions to resurrect Howard's men's and women's golf teams. They debuted at the Division 1 level. The men's team has won the PGA Works Collegiate Championship twice and during the USF-Howard Intercollegiate, we learned that the women won their first tournament of the fall slate on Tuesday. You can watch both teams now in an ESPN+ series executive produced by Curry.
"He exemplifies someone who is not just trying to write a check," Puryear said. "You know, he does it in time and in talent. I was texting with him this morning (Tuesday). He's across seas right now and you know he's texting wishing the team good luck. Depending on the time and events and the days, he's Facetiming players, emailing players and calling players. I just don't think it gets any better than that."
Every element of the USF-Howard partnership is rooted in access.
"Golf is booming right now and college golf specifically," Kennedy said. "We're trying to continue to grow this tournament, grow this event and make sure it's something that is really special for all the kids playing in it."
"My dad was an all-American golfer in '65, so I've been in golf my whole life," Puryear said. "The way I coach and navigate my personal life now is the way I was taught as a kid. Your friends look different, you play in different communities, you play at good courses and bad courses and you travel the country to play. That was my exposure and now being able to bring it full circle and give Howard students the chance to do that has been exciting."
The USF-Howard Intercollegiate is already scheduled for next year. It will be back on the East Coast at TPC Potomac.
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