William “Bill” Powell was born November 12, 1916 in Greenville, Alabama but grew up in Minerva, Ohio where he spent a lot of time on the golf course. He learned how to golf at a young age and even worked as a caddy. He attended Wilberforce University and played on the golf team until he left to fight in World War II.
After returning home from war in 1946, he was denied admission to a public course. It was at that moment he decided to cater to Black people, opening the Clearview Golf Club, also known as America’s Course, in East Canton, Ohio. This course was designed to be a place where everyone was welcomed and had a “clear view” of what the game of golf was all about.
Powell became known as the first African-American to design, construct, and own a professional golf course in the United States with his wife, Marcella, right by his side. She helped him transform the farmland into a golf oasis by hand. What started as a nine-hole course in 1948 turned into 18 holes by 1978. As a result of their hard work, Powell was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in 1996.
In 2001, Clearview Golf Club was named a National Historic Site by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Professional Golfers’ Association of America presented Powell with the Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest honors. The golf club is now managed by his children Larry Powell, Superintendent, and Renee Powell, LPGA/PGA Head Golf Professional.
Powell passed away at 93 years old on December 31, 2009.
Thank you for your service and your dedication Mr. Powell! Because of you, we can!
Photo: Clearview Golf Club