Aiming to help diversify the world of golf, the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association (BDSA) works to assist young African Americans who dream of being the next Tiger Woods. Founded in 1983, a group of dedicated volunteers raised $1500 for the first class of BDSA winners. Each attended Prairie View A&M University. It’s a contrast from today, where $200,000 is donated annually with an endowment that’s grown to $800,000.
Focusing on promoting golf, coupled with high achieving academics, middle and high school students who have a grade point average of a B or higher are given an all-expense paid trip to golf at places like Disney World. The youth are brought together to showcase like-minds, skin color, and a love for a sport that many began playing in grammar school. “Most of them don’t get a chance to see other black kids with a quality, top game,” says Bill Dickey, the association’s founder who previously was President of the Western State Golf Association. “When competing [elsewhere] they may be the only one or two among 100 golfers. The association gives them the opportunity to see there are other black kids around the country who have a good golf game.”
With scholarship awards ranging from $1000 to $6000, awards can be renewed annually. With over $2 million granted to hundreds of students over the course of the organization’s years, regular fundraisers like its marquee East/West Golf Classic bring in the bulk of money. Dickey proudly points out that more than half of these dollars have gone to HBCUs. “There are certain core values you learn when you pick up the game of golf – like honesty, character. You learn that you can’t cheat in golf. Other sports have referees; in golf, you police yourself,” says Dickey. “You learn how to control your emotions, and be friendly and fair in a game that lasts a lifetime.”
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