By Charles Dillahunt
PGA of America Inclusion & Diversity
PGA of America Inclusion & Diversity Intern Jasmin Cunningham, PGA, 22, of Atlanta, is on a quest to inspire more people of color to get involved in the game of golf. After all, she has followed an inclusive path to the game herself.
When she was 10-years old, Jasmin’s father, Scott, enrolled her in The First Tee of Atlanta, beginning a golf journey that has taken her to membership in the PGA of America.
“I started to like golf more, because of my experience with The First Tee of Atlanta, and it gave me the chance to meet many different coaches—one of them being Daryl Batey.”
Batey, also a PGA Member, suggested that Jasmin attend the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s (UMES) PGA Golf Management University Program, which is one of 18 accredited institutions in the country. Knowing that a career in Hospitality was her dream, Batey advised that UMES could provide a pathway through golf.
“As Jasmin’s golf coach, we always talked about more than just her golf swing,” said Batey. “When she was competing in high school, our conversations began to center around what her ’next steps’ were going to be. The subject of a golf career came up, and we began discussing options.
“After talking with her parents, we decided to pursue a golf scholarship at UMES, which would allow her to matriculate as a PGA Golf Management University Program student. When Jasmin sets goals, she gives it her all to achieve them, both on and off the course. Once she applied and was accepted, the rest was history.”
Cunningham was a recipient of the Renee Powell Foundation Scholarship, which provided her with the opportunity to attend UMES and graduate from the PGA Golf Management University Program.
“I wouldn’t have attended Maryland Eastern Shore, if it wasn’t for Daryl,” explained Cunningham. “Because of his help, I was able to attend the only HBCU [historically black college and university] with a PGA Golf Management Program, which was very important for me. To be able to be surrounded by others who looked like me in the game was vital and made my experience more enjoyable.”
Cunningham was a member of the inaugural women’s golf team at UMES, which competed in the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship (then known as the PGA Minority Collegiate Championship). “I always had an enormous amount of fun at that tournament, because it had great networking opportunities, like the PGA WORKS Career Expo. It also carries with it a big-time championship feel. It makes you feel famous when you see all the cameras and Golf Channel highlights after each day.”
If You Can See It, You Can Be It
During Championship week, Cunningham connected with Scooter Clark, PGA—the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship Manager for the PGA of America, who won 10 Collegiate Championships when he coached the men’s and women’s teams at Bethune-Cookman University. At the time, Cunningham was an intern for Titleist, and she asked Clark to let her know about opportunities at the PGA.
When an Intern position opened up at PGA Headquarters, she applied for the job. It was a natural fit.
“Jasmin possesses the passion, personality, work ethic and drive that is going to make for a very successful career within the business of golf,” said Clark. “In a very short time in her role as our Inclusion & Diversity Intern, she has been an impactful contributor to our team. The PGA of America is very fortunate to have her, and I’m extremely proud of her recent accomplishment of being elected to PGA Membership.”
Like Cunningham, Clark is an African-American, which inspired her to work for the PGA.
“It’s important that we expose more people of color to people like Scooter who have higher positions within the PGA of America, as it will serve as motivation for many other young men and women,” said Cunningham.
She regularly handles administrative tasks for the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, which will be held at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, May 9-12. Cunningham is utilizing her history of networking with college golf coaches to recruit more teams to compete in the Championship.
“I get to see a side of the PGA of America’s Inclusion & Diversity department that people on the outside don’t. This department is dedicated to growing the game in inclusive ways, and I’m so glad that I’m a part of it.”
Cunningham is also passionate about the PGA’s emphasis on bringing more youth, women and people of color into the game.
“Growing up, there weren’t very many women of color to play golf with,” she said. “It was hard for me to deal with, and I’d love to make sure that no one will ever have to go through that again.”
As a result, Cunningham will help Clemson University with its “Black Girls Golf Summer Scholars Program,” which introduces a diverse group of junior golfers to instruction from PGA Professionals, as well as to the institution’s PGA Golf Management University Program.
It’s a part of Jasmin’s plan to inspire golf’s next generation.
If you’re interested in exploring opportunities within the PGA of America, visit careers.pgahq.com.
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