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Black Girls Golf Faces Controversy

Tiffany Fitzgerald  | Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Black Girls Golf controversy with founder's comments in Women's Golf Journal interview

BGG founder, Tiffany Mack Fitzgerald, was recently interviewed for an article in the 2016 Spring Issue of Women’s Golf Journal. She ruffled a few feathers with her comments. Someone even went so far as to say Black people have to feel picked on. How did one statement stir up so much controversy?

We received the following messages regarding Tiffany's comments. "It is never my intent to create a controversy by sharing my experience.", says Fitzgerald.

Here are a few choice words from readers:

Women’s Golf Journal…Spring 2016 issue. Your words, Tiffany Fitzgerald, used in the article…”I hate to believe that (it was racism) but I don’t know what else it could be. I do know that golf professionals aren’t professionals, they’re golfers that are forced to take on a professional role and that they’re not always the most organized in terms of getting back to people or scheduling.

This is the most untrue statement you could have ever made. I am an LPGA golf professional in good standing for the last 33 years. I have worked with women and girls of all ethnicities and as professionals, racism is not in our vocabulary.

As a lifetime member I have taught in many different venues throughout the world and am extremely “professional” in all areas of my life. We have over 1300 members in the teaching sector and we are not FORCED to take on a professional role, we live it. The statement was insulting, ignorant and I take it as a personal attack to my profession. Those of us that are in the business of golf, return phone calls, schedule students and are extremely organized to juggle not only lessons and clinics but community work and public speaking. These sentences should have never gone to press.

Sandi H.

BGG_WGJ

I take great exception to your comments in an article in the spring issue of the above-referenced magazine.  And after viewing your website, I also don't understand your mission.

Why not support all women to benefit from the game of golf?  Why does it seem black people always have to feel picked on? Encouraging a young black girl to take up the game of golf so she can be at the board room table is like me telling a young white girl to take up the game of basketball so she can play for the Golden State Warriors.

Simply by your name "Black Girls Golf" you are contributing to the impression that you are different, that you need to belong to a special group to play golf.

Golf is for everyone.  We have a fabulous world-wide program in The First Tee to encourage kids to gain life skills through the game of golf.  It teaches character-building traits like integrity and honesty.  No where are the kids told golf will get you in the boardroom.  You mission is mis-guided and short-sighted, in my opinion.

Specifically, you said in the article that when you met Condoleezza Rice at Pebble Beach "you were the only 2 black women within a 10 mile radius".  Please check your geography.  You may have been the only black women at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy at that time, but the Monterey peninsula has an extremely diverse population of whites, Asians, Hispanics and blacks.  I live here. As a Caucasian, I am a minority. As I mentioned earlier---it seems like you want to feel picked on.

Secondly, why would you paint golf professionals with such a broad brush: "I do know that golf professionals aren't professionals, they're golfers that are forced to take on a professional role and that they're not always the most organized in terms of getting back to people or scheduling."  My son is a PGA certified instructor and golf pro here in Monterey. Perhaps you should educate yourself by going to the PGA of America website and understanding what it takes to become a golf professional.  I agree that you were treated poorly by not receiving a call back, regardless of what you were wanting help with. But please don't criticize all golf professionals who are dedicated to our game simply by the actions of one individual.

Gina S.

These two readers are right about one thing, golf professionals ARE professionals. Fitzgerald admits her wrongdoing,
"I was wrong to say they are not. I know that LPGA and PGA members go through a lengthy training program to become members and teaching professionals. My comments do not reflect the level of respect I have for them and their passion for what they do. The point I didn't do so well making is this - golf professionals become members of the LPGA and PGA because they love the game. In my experience in the industry, they seem to have a distaste for the business of golf as they have been required to take on responsibilities that are more administrative in nature than they would like. I apologize for misrepresenting what these professionals do. I rely on them to help me grow the game through Black Girls Golf. I have worked with dedicated, hard working professionals and I have also encountered several assholes. Yes, I did paint them all with a pretty broad brush and I apologize for that. I do not apologize for sharing my experience."

With that said, we feel the need to correct Gina on a few points about Black Girls Golf. It is NOT our mission to perpetuate a victim's mentality amongst young black girls and women. The very nature of Gina's comments speak to the reason Black Girls Golf exists, she doesn't understand  what it feels like to be a Black women on the golf course. Black Girls Golf created a space in the golf industry where women with a shared experience can learn, practice and play golf together. Being a victim is not a requirement for membership. Black Girls Golf is the introduction of two strangers to each other - golf and black women. We will not apologize for that.

The work we're doing is making a difference in the game. The women we bring into this industry are taking lessons with LPGA/PGA members, they are buying rounds of golf, and purchasing golf apparel and equipment. LPGA and PGA members have an interdependent relationship with Black Girls Golf. We need each other to grow this game.