Langston Frazier’s path to golf was a product of circumstance.
He was born hearing impaired in both ears, which meant that contact sports like basketball or soccer were not possible to protect his health. But in fourth grade, Frazier found golf through the first tee in his hometown of Bowie, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC
As Frazier got older and graduated from school, he decided to become a teacher. He liked social studies, US history, government, and got interested in politics from an early age. But he also knew that his heart belonged, at least in part, to the Gulf.
“So I figured if I can play golf and be a teacher at the same time, why not?” Frazier, 24, said. “That’s where it really started.”
Frazier attended the PGA Golf Management University Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). And in June, after hundreds of lessons and thousands of course hours, he became the newest of fewer than 200 African American PGA members.
He is already using this PGA training as an Assistant Golf Professional on the University of Maryland golf course, the same school where he is doing a degree in broadcast journalism. But for Frazier, membership means more than just putting a few letters after his name.
“This membership is much more than an ID number, membership card, pin and fancy piece of paper,” Frazier wrote on LinkedIn on the day of his membership. “It’s a gateway to so much more. It shows people, especially young children, who look like me, that: ‘Hey, if he can do it, I can do it too!’ “
The PGA of America is working on several fronts to increase African American membership – there are currently 182 Black PGA Professionals – as well as other underrepresented groups. This includes 18 accredited PGA Golf Management University programs like the one at UMES and funding of 10 annual grants of $ 8,000 for various students who go through these programs. In 2008 UMES was the first HBCU to be accredited by the PGA.
There are also companies like PGA VendorMatch and JobMatch that work with local organizations to attract a diverse workforce to the PGA’s viewing championships, including the 43rd Ryder Cup. There is also the PGA WORKS Career Expo, held during the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, which connects student athletes from HBCUs, Hispanic and minority institutions directly with employers in the golf industry.
Then there is the PGA LEAD program. In her sixth year, she identifies, develops, and mentors PGA members from diverse backgrounds who hold leadership positions at the chapter, section, and national levels of the association. Since 2016, 12 PGA LEAD members have risen to the positions of the PGA Section Board and three have become Section Vice Presidents. Howie Pruitt, an African American member, even became president of the Pacific Northwest PGA Section.
It’s a program Frazier wants to be part of soon, understanding that it is crucial to make the PGA of America – and the golf industry at large – look more like the rest of America in order to introduce the game to new audiences and make it successful keep.
“It’s a problem that needs to be tackled aggressively, and there are programs that can help with diversity and inclusion like the one I’ve been through,” said Frazier. “But it starts with the members. It will take time and it will mean shaking things up and making some people uncomfortable with what other members of the minority have been feeling for years.
“I don’t take being a black member lightly. It’s not something I take for granted. People ask what’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done and that’s that and goes to UMES. Because if people don’t feel involved in this game, what do we do? “
Aside from golf and teaching, Frazier’s other passion is television, which is why he graduated from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in Maryland. He also works in the Maryland media department as a research assistant for the golf programs.
He did an internship and scholarship with the Golf Channel and wrote for Golf Digest, including about this year’s PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship at TPC Sawgrass, a tournament he actually participated in twice.
The idea of being a Black Golf media member – especially in front of the camera – with PGA membership cards is not lost at Frazier. He would look different from most golf media and he would like to use that as inspiration for others.
Just as he hopes for his newly earned PGA membership.
“When people come to the pro shop, they probably don’t expect to see me, and sometimes I can see they’re a little surprised,” Frazier said. “They ask if I have a. am [undergrad] Student, and I say, ‘No. Actually, I’m a professional golfer. ‘
“Then they see the PGA behind my name and know that I am the right person, especially for young people. And that’s something that people like me couldn’t do before. So this is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had. “