Wendell Haskins Brings Back The Original Tee Golf Classic By Honoring NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning

Wendell Haskins Brings Back The Original Tee Golf Classic By Honoring NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning

Wendell Haskins Brings Back The Original Tee Golf Classic By Honoring NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning

The Original Tee Golf Classic made a triumphant return on Sunday, July 24 after being on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event marked the 23rd year as it took place at the Crystal Springs Resort and Wild Turkey Golf Club, in Hamburg, NJ. The premier celebrity/amateur and professional African American golf experience is also honoring an NBA legend, Alonzo Mourning as dozens of celebrities and executives will be on the green.

This year’s sponsors include the NBA, Nike, PGA Tour, LPGA, Madison Square Garden Sports, Titleist, Delta Airlines and Pepsi among a host of others on board to support this longstanding event. It also helps that with names like John Starks, Alex Thomas, Anthony Anderson, Hisham Tawfiq, JR Smith, Rosie Perez, and Roland Martin, it seems like it is the place to be and network.

Wendell Haskins, who started the event in 2000, launched the Original Tee Golf Classic to intersect the worlds of golf, business, fashion, and entertainment. Original Tee is also a culture club that amplifies inclusion in golf by preserving the history of the game’s diverse Black pioneers and celebrating other iconic golf enthusiasts who are ambassadors of excellence.

THE INDUSTRY COSIGN got the chance to speak to Haskins before the latest OTGC tees down. He discusses the importance of bringing the event back, why he chose Mourning to honor this year, and the importance of having diversity in the sport of golf.

The Original Tee Golf Classic, an event you’ve been doing for over 20 years, marks its return after a brief hiatus due to the coronavirus. What was the original purpose of doing this event and why do you feel the importance of it coming back will affect those golf enthusiasts and people who have been and still support it today?

I actually did smaller versions of the OTGC in South Florida for the two down years but this is the first year back to our traditional venue with our family of patrons and supporters since 2019. I created this event to create an annual tradition that recognizes and celebrates Black Culture in golf. I wanted to pay homage to the Black pioneers and celebrate our love for golf. I wanted to influence future generations of people to know about the accomplishments of Black people in golf pride and respect. The people who have attended the OTGC over the years look forward to returning because it educates, entertains and inspires in a way that no other golf event does.

With this year’s honoree being NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning, why was he chosen and who should we anticipate also participating in this year’s event. What awaits people who are attending this year?

I chose Alonzo Mourning because he is a great champion, a humanitarian and philanthropist who cares about the Black community. Alonzo is a servant leader. He’s also a friend and golfer who loves the game and is an ambassador in his own right. I also wanted the opportunity to thank Alonzo for the significant role he played in Charlie Sifford receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. When I worked for the PGA I asked Alonzo if he would take the idea to President Obama and he did. He then relayed to me what needed to be done and I was able to get it done thanks to Alonzo’s leadership. He helped make golf history and I’m forever grateful that he did that for Charlie Sifford. This year you can expect to see Anthony Anderson, Roland Martin, John Starks, Alex Thomas, Victor Cruz, Michael Ralph, Hisham Tawfiq,  Sadena Parks and many more inspiring people from just about every industry you can think of.

Let’s talk about your background. You’ve worked within the entertainment and sports industry in various roles that include marketing, promotion and diversity, inclusion and equity. What led you down this particular path where you were able to utilize your experience and expertise?

My father was my biggest influence and he loved sports, education and equality for Blacks so I was raised with those influences and values. He was a lifetime National Urban League executive so I was heavily influenced by the NUL leadership and its mission throughout my life. After college, I was introduced to the music business by my sister and took advantage of the opportunities that developed as a result. When I picked up golf, I created my own golf tournament that celebrates Black culture and I wanted to bring all of my values and entertainment expertise to a sport and industry I felt desperately needed it.

With a passion for diversity within a sport that still has a blanket of white spread across it, how do you use your connections and relationships with entertainers and athletes to try to bring the necessary tools to promote diversity and inclusion in the sport of golf?

Entertainers and athletes love golf and they want to see more Black kids playing the game and be set up to succeed. They also have high visibility,  reach and influence so they can be great advocates and ambassadors for golf. I have leaned on some of my relationships to get messages across such as Alonzo Mourning appealing to President Obama for Charlie Sifford, Chris Paul doing a commercial promoting PGA Professionals, Steph Curry being a golf ambassador for PGA Jr. League Golf and even Lee Elder getting to be an honorary starter at the 2021 Masters before he died. All of those monumental achievements in golf happened because of my relationships in sports and entertainment.

What suggestions do you have for those who are trying to penetrate through the racism and bias that people of color face while working within the constraints of corporate America? 

I would suggest that you prepare yourself in every way possible to be who you want to be for yourself. Whether it is entrepreneurial or inside corporate America arm yourself with knowledge and skills that sustain you and always give you options.

Wendell Haskins Brings Back The Original Tee Golf Classic By Honoring NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning

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