This Ohio course, built during segregation, lives on because of the Powell family
By Justice B. Hill
Head pro Renee Powell hurries into the brownish-gray, wood-framed clubhouse at Clearview Golf Course. On this saunalike Saturday afternoon in late August, Powell is seeking relief inside this dimly lit, air-conditioned building.
“Can we get 15 minutes?” someone asks her.
The words make Powell smile.
“Maybe five,” she replies, holding up her right hand, her fingers spread. “You know how crazy it is today.”
“Crazy” is an apt word, because Clearview, a nonprofit foundation, was built 70 years ago with shovelfuls of crazy.
For nothing was crazier back then the notion a black man, her father Bill Powell, would take his hands and sculpt a golf course from farmland he bought in the heart of Ohio. But Bill Powell, whom friends called “Mr. P,” believed; he believed not only that could he build the course, but that if he did, by God, golfers would surely come and play on it.
And Mr. P. was right. They’ve been playing Clearview ever since.
The place has survived in the face of Jim Crow segregation – a black-owned, black-built course that has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. From nearby and beyond, golfers have come to play the par-72 course, golf pros such as Calvin Peete, Homero Blancas and Charlie Sifford; Hall of Famers such as Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Henry Aaron and more; and ordinary folk too – blacks and whites, any man or woman who liked striking golf balls for the joy of it as much as Bill Powell did.
“He called it ‘America’s course’ because he wanted it opened to everyone,” said Ramona Harriet, a sports historian who has written about blacks in golf. “He wanted this golf club opened to the people who denied him access to their courses.”