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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar
Photos b
y Patsy Collier-Lamar

Golfing phenom has HBCU ties

Bria Sanders, the 17 year old golfing phenom from Atlanta, is gracing the summer edition of African-American Golfers Digest, 80,000 subscribers and all.

            Sanders, the daughter of HBCU grads Michael Sanders (Tuskegee) and Sharon Sanders (Morris Brown), moved with the family to Memphis, Tennessee several years ago and has made giant-sized strides in golf since then. She’s appeared on several TV shows there and has won, placed or showed in just about every amateur tournament in the country. Her academic prowess and golf potential landed her a scholarship to the prestigious Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

“That school has done wonders for Bria, “ says her Dad Mike. “ She has learned four languages and maintained a GPA of 3.85. Her plans, notwithstanding her intent to get on the LPGA circuit, are to major in fashion design. About 16-18 colleges are recruiting Bria but her dad hinted to me that she has her eyes set on the Savannah School of Arts and Design (SCAD) because aside from their strong academic curriculum, they also boast a ladies’ golf team that is currently ranked number one in the country. Bria SandersSanders

            I had the privilege to watch Bria start playing the game at the tender of age of three. With the nurturing of her father who coached her and worked overtime to get his daughter the best possible training , guidance and backing he could ( and with little more than the widow’s mite too ), she rose through local ranks here while enrolled at Atlanta’s Centennial Place Elementary School. She returns to the Haney Academy this year as a senior with a boatload of academic achievements behind her and a quenching thirst to be the best woman or man to hold a golf club. I predicted many years ago that she was the equivalent of a female Tiger Woods. That’s why I figure that within four years the next e-mail I’ll get from Mike and Sharon will be a photocopy of her LPGA card…

            By the way,  visit www.africanamericangolfersdigest.com for a copy of the current edition.

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Speaking of golf, I betcha didn’t know that the success of Tigers Woods is owed in part to a group of black duffers called the National Negro Golf Association. Just think that most of us thought the interest among “us” in golf was created when Tiger the pro stepped onto the fairway just a few years ago and virtually held a clinic for some of the sports’ so-called super stars. I sat down recently with two of the members of the Atlanta chapter (they have seven across the country in Philly, New York, Cleveland , Richmond, DC , some independent chapters and an Omega chapter) Jim Ritchie and Ernest “Broadway” Oglesby and heard incredible stories which include the Tiger saga. According to these two brothers, Tigers’ father, the late Earl Woods, approached the NNGA about a donation to help his son attend amateur tournaments while he was still in college. ‘Collectively, the chapters raised about $10,000,” said Ritchie. “ I’m not sure Tiger would have made it without our help,” said Oglesby. “In those days, black golfers got little if any sponsorship which is why many of them who were pretty good never got a shot beyond their local golf courses. You know, back in the 60s and 70s we had a number of black golfers on the (PGA) tour. But when the golf cart was created, it cut out the need for caddies, most of whom were black so interest among us dwindled because we had no need to be at the courses.”

            One of the NNGA’s focuses of late has been to create even more interest among young African-Americans in the game. Their thrust in that area will come in May of 2014 when the Atlanta chapter hosts a tournament and banquet in Atlanta.

But will there be an interest in golf in, say, 10 years and for that matter, will the NNGA be around at that time? INSIDE asked Oglesby and Ritchie. Both were split in their opinions.

“ I see a dim view if the younger brothers don’t get it (the significance of the organization.),” said Ritchie, who with his wife manufactures and markets golf clubs. “We have 31 members in the Atlanta chapter ( Ritchie is secretary)  but I see don’t see the loyalty in many of them. We built the NNGA not only as a golf group but as friends who came together in fellowship. At gatherings, we’d go from table to table shaking hands and patting each other on the back. I don’t see much of that in the new guys.”

            “No, I think we will be here,” said Oglesby. As long as some of old timers are around to pass down the history of this group, the fellas in their 40s and 50s coming in will adopt what we started 55 years ago and keep it going, perhaps for an eternity.”

            To find out more about the NNGA, visit their web site at www.NNGA.us

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Willie PattersonPattersonMiles College Sports Information Director Willie Patterson is now the school’s former SID. Patterson is now the SID at Fort Valley State University, replacing Charles Ward who left to become the Executive Director of the Herndon Home, the palatial Atlanta estate built by insurance mogul Alonzo F Herndon back in 1910. Miles ‘ loss is Fort Valley’s find and what a find they made in “Pat!”……..Meanwhile, Ward says he hopes to utilize his spare time away from the home to do some play-by-play this upcoming grid season. He has applied to replace Wes Durham at Georgia Tech but is open to any offer that comes his way. Check out his work by sending Charles an email to this address:

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Rumors are flying like so many leaves in a hurricane that the SIAC is shopping  a new home for its football championship and basketball tourney…and they got their eyes on Birmingham. For several years, the Alabama town hosted the basketball doings and now it looks like the one time Steel City might l host the football gig as well. There is a open spot, considering the SWAC packed up its grid championship and b-ball tournament bags and lit out for Houston Texas leaving Birmingham officialdom rather angry at that. Source tell INSIDE that things will be laid out in full at the SIAC  football media luncheon August 6. You should try and make this one but in case you can’t, go to www.thesiac.com. for a live streaming.

Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net

 

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