She's bringing more Black excellence to the green!
Meet Tiffany Fitzgerald, the founder of a Black golfing organization looking to make the game more inclusive, The Story Exchange reports. Fitzgerald was working in marketing at a company in Iowa when she first got the idea to start golfing.
“I had my head down, I was there early, I stayed late. I was busy checking off all the boxes: go to college, get a good job, do all those things...No one told me to play golf, though,” Fitzgerald recalled.
Many corporate business deals have been closed on the golf course, and while Fitzgerald was doing everything right, she would always feel left out of the boys’ club as her colleagues headed off to the green. Eventually, she bought some clubs at Kmart, signed up for a golf lesson, and the next time her coworkers headed out, she decided to join them.
“I invited myself, and it was probably, even to this date, still one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life: not knowing what to do, where to stand, when I could talk, when I couldn’t talk, swinging, and missing,” Fitzgerald recalled.
A senior-level male coworker began helping her out, noticing how uncomfortable she was, and many of the other guys joined in shortly after. She kept taking lessons and grew a love for the game, desiring to share that love with other women who looked like her. In 2012, she quit her day job and moved to Atlanta, founding “Black Girls Golf” just one year later.
At first, about a dozen Black women showed up with Fitzgerald attempting to give them a crash course lesson. It failed, but the women had fun and just enjoyed celebrating and learning the game.
“I just stuck with it. I knew that this was something that had to happen because Black women have certain perceptions about golf that it’s boring, it’s expensive, it’s for old white men. Golf isn’t really a sport that meets people where they are. I felt like Black Girls Golf could be the bridge,” she said.
Now, eight years later, the organization boasts 5,000 members, working tirelessly to expose young girls and professional Black women to the sport. Black Girls Golf hosts clinics across the country for those interested in joining and holds watch parties of professional golf games that also serve as mentorship and networking opportunities. Before the pandemic began, Fitzgerald solidified a partnership with Clemson University in South Carolina to start a youth golf program.
“The goal really is to normalize seeing Black women in these spaces. I want to be able to show up with as many Black women as I can on the golf course, and people not be shocked and surprised,” she explained.
Currently, Fitzgerald has a few paid interns but is looking to hire full-time staff soon. She was able to benefit from the influx of companies looking to support Black-owned businesses; she vetted companies and chose to accept the financial support of BMW, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, and Adidas Golf. She felt these companies were genuinely invested in helping Black-owned organizations, as opposed to the ones looking to save face following the murder of George Floyd.
Membership into the organization is free, but there are fees for events. Atlanta is the hub of Black Girls Golf for now, but Fitzgerald is looking to branch out into other cities through her clinics soon. Next month, they’ll be hosting a retreat in Texas, a first-of-its-kind event featuring the largest gathering of Black women on the golf course.
“I know that I’m at the tip of the iceberg for what I’m doing, and there’s so many more women I could be introducing to the game,” said Fitzgerald.
To learn more about Black Girls Golf, visit their website.
Congratulations, Tiffany! Keep creating opportunities for the people who need it most!
Photo Courtesy of Tiffany Fitzgerald