Credit: (Photo courtesy: Evan Schiller)

Drew Nate | The IE Voice

On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the Greenhouse Golf Academy (GHGA) hosted their Heart and Soul Community Luncheon from 11 am to 2 pm at the PGA West in LaQuinta, CA. 

This year the Green House Golf Academy (GHGA) moved  into a new phase, “Growing the Game of Golf Through Community Awareness and Opportunities for Diversity & Inclusion.” The goal of this new direction is to ensure that the health and future of the game and industry of golf is represented by a more diverse population.

The luncheon event highlighted the community and the industry leaders who work to provide the needed support for many community organizations. 

Bill Wright, 1952 U.S. Publinks Champion seated on the left. Alton Duhon, U.S. Senior Amateur Champion 1982 seated on the right (Source: ghga10.org).

At the 2022 American Express Golf Championship, which has remained one of the most significant events in the Coachella Valley, the GHGA hosted a “special event” for approximately 50 to 60 special invited guests, where professional golfers played in a limited field event. The special event was created to serve as a platform to highlight selected worthy causes such as workforce development, diversity and inclusion within the golf industry.

GHGA continues working to grow the game of golf for individuals who otherwise may not get the opportunity and for people with different backgrounds looking to enter the game of golf. 

Helping students thrive

Green House Golf Academy executive director Vincent W. Shack began his golf experience at an early age as a part of the Southern California Junior Golf Association. In 1998, he founded the Green House Golf Academy, Over the years GHGA has introduced more than 350 youth and community members to the game of golf (Source: ghga10.org).

Through its Golf, Education and Direction program (GED) program, efforts are made to positively impact some of the most important areas in the lives of those individuals who are underserved. The GHGA fosters a relevant, coherent and engaging environment for underserved minority students while introducing them to the game of golf.

Students enrolled in the program receive golf skills development during golf clinics provided by a PGA professional. Students will also be mentored beginning with their initial enrollment into the GHGA which will continue throughout high school, college, and their professional careers. 

The student-mentor relationship consists of sportsmanship development, character training, and academic mapping towards completing high school and admission into college. 

Educational activities complement and/or enhance the training that is needed to be both physically and academically competitive thus leading to the possibility of each student earning a golf scholarship for college.

Community leaders express support for the program

In an interview with Ron Oden who is both the first African American and the first openly gay man to serve as mayor of Palm Springs. He spoke about the Green House Golf Academy and the work of its Founder and Executive Director Vincent W. Shack.

This year, American Express became the Greenhouse Golf Academy’s official title sponsor. 

 “American Express is looking for diversity and they are looking to be a part of things that are progressive. That says a lot about this organization and about Vincent,” Oden said. “He is a remarkable young man, I am involved with the Academy because of him.”

When Ron Oden was elected mayor of Palm Springs, CA in 2003, he made history by becoming the first openly gay African-American man elected mayor of an American city (thehoovercardinal.org)

Shack, who founded the Academy in 1998 and serves as the Executive Director, received a golf scholarship to attend California State University, Dominguez Hill where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Parks, Recreation and  Leisure. During his time at Dominguez Hills the golf team was ranked 5th in the nation’s NCAA Division II, the same year he was in the inaugural class of recipients of the prestigious Bill Dickey Scholarship in 1982. 

The Bill Dickey Scholarship is awarded to outstanding student athletes, and its qualifications and standards still lead the way for minority college bound golfers. 

Shack has introduced over 350 youth and community members to the game of golf through GHGA.

“He has overcome obstacles to teach minorities the art of golf,” explained Oden. “When I say relentless, he is relentless. He didn’t have any support but he has continued to make a difference.”

It’s been 32 years since Oden entered the Coachella Valley but one thing that has impressed him the most about the region is how much it has evolved and much more inclusive the region has become. As the Coachella Valley continues to grow in diversity the GHGA looks to continue to introduce underserved minority students to the game of golf.

To accomplish the goals of GHGA, the organization plans to host Heart & Soul Community Luncheons throughout the year in environments honoring various causes and business organizations that are leading the way toward a growing, inclusive, and diverse field of participants in the golf industry.

Drew Nate

Drew Nate, a resident of Corona, California, reports for Black Voice News and the IE Voice where he focuses on stories within the Inland Empire and throughout California. An advocate for equity and social justice, he emphasizes civil rights for African Americans. Drew previously served as a staff reporter for The Criterion, a student-run newspaper publication at La Sierra University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Communications. Drew’s areas of interest include international climate change, fashion, and criminal justice reform. Contact Drew with tips, comments, and/or concerns at drew@blackvoicenews.com.