This week the golf world mourns the loss of the late great Bill Dickey. For those that recognize his name, you know his significance and the magnitude of his loss to the golf world. For those that may not be familiar with his name, he can best be described as the "Godfather of Minority Golf." Bill Dickey was a tireless champion, who committed every fiber of his being to give minority kids the opportunity to further their education and better themselves through golf. He believed that golf was a life skill that could enhance a young person’s life and afford them tremendous opportunities as a result. It was through his self started National Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association, later named the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association, that he was able to touch the lives of young minority golfers throughout the country and provide them financial assistance to attend many of the country’s finest colleges and universities like Hampton, Yale and Harvard, to name a few. He was aware of all talented junior minority golfers, kept them on his radar and provided support to many of them who may not have otherwise had the full means to play in junior tournaments or pay for college. That even included the once young golf prodigy Eldrick Tiger Woods.
I was fortunate enough to meet Bill Dickey when I started my own Original Tee Golf Classic golf tournament in 1999 and chose the NMJGSA to be a benefactor. Through that relationship we developed a personal friendship. He was grassroots and easygoing, funny and honest, never offensive; and he had a catalog of personal stories – more captivating than a Donald Goines series – that made him wonderfully entertaining.
In 2007 he was honored by the PGA and given the PGA Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding commitment to golf and his continuous effort to help minority kids and young adults participate in the sport.
He was a beacon of opportunity to minority golfers who are often under served and in many cases overlooked. He organized a number of annual national tournaments that gave young minority golfers the opportunity to compete on a national platform and receive recognition for their abilities. For those whose lives he touched, they know how much more difficult things would have been had it not been for Bill Dickey and the opportunities they were afforded because of him.
I truly admired the man and am fortunate to have been able to have called him my friend in my lifetime. His indomitable spirit and commitment will be irreplaceable and we all will miss him dearly.