To celebrate Black History Month, the PGA of America is highlighting influential African-American PGA Professionals. Each is making an impact on the golf industry by helping ensure that the future makeup of the game mirrors America.
It’s great to play golf or work in the industry, but without an experienced mentor to help answer questions and clear a path to success, it could be easy to fall short of your dreams.
Many PGA Professionals are paving new paths, including African-American PGA Professionals Jeff Dunovant (pictured above with daughter, Kendall), PGA; Mackenzie Mack, PGA, LPGA, MBA; and Howie Pruitt, PGA. Each is making an impact on the next generation of the golf industry as mentors.
The son of renowned PGA Member Harold Dunovant, Jeff and his dad are the first African-American father-son duo to become PGA Quarter Century Members (at least 25 years of PGA Membership). Jeff was mentored by his father and some of his dad’s closest friends in the industry, including African-American golf legends Lee Elder, Calvin Peete and Charlie Sifford.
“I love this game, and I’m willing to do anything to see it grow,” said Jeff Dunovant. “My love of the game came from hanging around my dad at the courses where he was a head professional, and being in the golf atmosphere around great black golfers. I would hit balls daily, take lessons, and before I knew it, I was obsessed with it.”
Now the PGA Director of Golf Operations and Head Professional for The First Tee of Metro Atlanta and Jon A. White Park Golf Course, Dunovant is a mentor for the next generation of golf employees. He is also a varsity golf coach at Drew Charter School, which in 2019 became the first all-African American high school golf team to win a Georgia state championship.
“For me, it was always important to make sure younger kids had someone who looked like me in this role,” Dunovant explained. “It serves as real motivation when you see someone who looks like you in where you want to be. I always make it a point to go out of my way to help younger, diverse individuals, because I know it means the future of this industry will become just that.”
One person to benefit from Dunovant’s mentorship is his daughter, Kendall.
“Kendall now works for the USGA as a Rules Coordinator, and she decided to take that job because she saw that her father and grandfather both loved working in the industry,” said Dunovant. “She wasn’t always sure she wanted to work in golf, but because she had two golf mentors right in front of her, it became an easier and more attractive decision.”
Dunovant played for Fayetteville State University in the most culturally significant championship in collegiate golf, the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship. Dunovant returns to the event each year at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to mentor current student-athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other minority-serving educational institutions.