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Smashing Through Hurdles

Blog post written by Tim Smith, President of Carolon Capital.

In 1945, Mr. William “Bill” Powell returned home after valiantly fighting for the United States in World War II as a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Eighth Air Force Truck Battalion. Despite the sacrifices for his country, upon his return from duty, Mr. Powell found that he was not welcome at most golf courses to play the game he dearly loved. Instead of succumbing to the hurdle placed in front of him, Mr. Powell decided to find some land, design a golf course and build his own place to play, where people of all colors would be welcome at all times. The result was the establishment of the Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio in 1946. Clearview is known as “America’s Course.”

Seventy years later, Clearview is still the only course in America designed, built, owned and operated by an African American. It was named a National Historic Site by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2001 and obtained recognition as an Ohio Historic Site the same year.

I recently had the honor of playing Clearview after a gracious invitation from Mr. Powell’s daughter, Renee Powell. My awe inspiring round was played with two Army Veterans (Mindy and Hollis), a 34-year veteran of the FBI (Moochie) and one of the greatest running backs in Pittsburgh Steelers history and the owner of four Super Bowl rings (Franco).

Mindy, Hollis, Moochie and Franco, despite all of their individual achievements, were quick to point out how their accomplishments and sacrifices paled in comparison to Mr. Powell’s. When a seemingly insurmountable hurdle was placed in front of him, Mr. Powell took the only action he could to ensure he was able to continue playing the game he loved. By extension, his vision introduced the game of golf to many others and provided opportunities where they previously did not exist.

While creating a company such as Carolon is inconsequential in relation to Mr. Powell’s achievements, my weekend at Clearview will continuously serve as a reminder that, in building Carolon, we can walk around, climb or simply knock down any hurdle that stands in front of us.