Powell has been the golf professional at the historic East Canton, Ohio club since 1995, to help carry on the legacy of her father Bill Powell, who built Clearview as the first U.S. course owned and operated by an African-American. Renee Powell was the second black woman to play the LPGA Tour and the first to earn Class A PGA membership. The Ross Award honors “significant and lasting contributions to the profession of golf course architecture.”
Since the end of World War II, making golf available to minorities has been the family business for the Powell family.
Started in 1946 by family patriarch Bill Powell, a World War II veteran and entrepreneur, Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio was the country’s first golf course built and owned and operated by an African-American. The course was placed on the National Register of Historic Places 19 years ago.
Powell died 10 years ago, but the golf course he built from the ground up is still owned today by his children Renee and Larry, and they have carried on his legacy by bringing golf to an underserved community in northeastern Ohio.
Renee Powell has been Clearview’s golf pro since 1995, and her brother Larry has been the club’s course superintendent for more than five decades.
For her years of dedication to the golf industry as an ambassador to the game as both a playing and teaching professional, Renee Powell has been named the recipient of the Donald Ross Award, presented annually by the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) to one “who has made significant and lasting contributions to the profession of golf course architecture.”
Powell, who has been playing golf since age 11, was the second black woman to play the LPGA Tour and was a touring pro in the United States and the U.K. for 13 years. She captained women’s golf teams at Ohio University and Ohio State, and has served as an ambassador of the game on USO tours to dozens of countries during the past five decades.
The first African-American woman to earn Class A PGA membership, Powell was named an Honorary Member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 2015.
The Clearview Legacy Foundation, established in 2001, has a three-pronged mission: to promote education by using golf as a tool to reach children, minorities, veterans and the disabled; to preserve the history of the game and Clearview’s place in it; and to promote turfgrass research through work to develop, achieve and promote sustainable turfcare practices.
Past Donald Ross Award Recipients have included:
2019 – Joe Passov, golf writer
2018 – President George Herbert Walker Bush, U.S. President
2017 – Alice Dye, ASGCA Fellow, golf course architect
2016 – Michael Bamberger, golf writer
2015 – Bradley S. Klein, golf writer
2014 – Maj. Dan Rooney, founder, Folds of Honor Foundation
2013 – Rees Jones, ASGCA, golf course architect
2012 – Bill Kubly, golf course builder
2011 – James Dodson, golf writer/editor
2010 – Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner
2009 – Ron Dodson, sustainable golf advocate
2008 – George Peper, golf writer
2007 – Dr. Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA, golf course architect
2006 – Jim Awtrey, chief executive officer, PGA of America
2005 – John Singleton, irrigation pioneer
2004 – Thomas Cousins, philanthropist, urban golf developer
2003 – Bill Campbell, president, USGA, captain, Royal & Ancient Golf Club
2002 – Byron Nelson, professional golfer
2001 – Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA, professional golfer, golf course architect
2000 – Jaime Ortiz-Patino, owner and president, Valderrama Golf Club
1999 – Arnold Palmer, professional golfer
1998 – Judy Bell, president, USGA
1997 – Gene Sarazen, professional golfer
1996 – Ron Whitten, golf writer
1995 – Pete Dye, ASGCA, golf course architect
1994 – James R. Watson, agronomist
1993 – Brent Wadsworth, golf course builder
1992 – Paul Fullmer, ASGCA executive secretary
1991 – Michael Bonallack, secretary, Royal & Ancient Golf Club
1990 – John Zoller, executive director, Northern California Golf Association
1989 – Dick Taylor, editor, “Golf World” magazine
1988 – Frank Hannigan, executive director, USGA
1987 – Charles Price, writer, “Golf World” magazine
1986 – Deane Beman, commissioner, PGA Tour
1985 – Peter Dobereiner, “London Observer” columnist, author
1984 – Dinah Shore, sponsor of women’s golf tournaments
1983 – Al Radko, director, USGA Green Section
1982 – Geoffrey Cornish, ASGCA, golf course architect, historian
1981 – James Rhodes, governor of Ohio
1980 – Gerald Micklem, captain, Royal & Ancient
1979 – Joe Dey, executive director, USGA
1978 – Herb and Joe Graffis, founders, National Golf Foundation
1977 – Herbert Warren Wind, “The New Yorker” columnist, author
1976 – Robert Trent Jones, ASGCA, ASGCA founding member