The PGA Golf Tour is getting a hopefully long-lasting glimpse of HBCU talent with Howard University standout Gregory Odom Jr. Mike Dojc at Forbes is explaining how.
Opportunity knocks for Gregory Odom Jr., a rising senior on Howard University’s golf team. The finance major makes his debut PGA Tour start at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomoc at Avenel Farm on a sponsor’s exemption.
“I am extremely thankful to Wells Fargo for giving me the opportunity to realize something that I have been working very hard for and that’s making my dreams come true on the PGA Tour,” Odom Jr., who led the Bison to victory at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Golf Championship, says.
“I know there are a lot of things done behind the scenes for me and for others and anything is possible now in the world and I just want to embrace this opportunity to the fullest,” Odom Jr. adds.
A demonstration of their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, over the past decade Wells Fargo has contributed over $30 million in financial support to HBCUs through the United Negro College Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund as well as direct commitments to individual academic and athletic programs. For this year’s tournament, the San Francisco-based bank gave four HBCU students and alums from Hampton University, Morehouse College and Fisk University the opportunity to play in the tournament’s Pro Am with the golfer of their choice.
“We have a long history of supporting HBCUs, and this year we are using the Wells Fargo Championship to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for young, diverse golfers. With our sponsor exemption, we’re proud to help Howard University student Gregory Odom, Jr., make his PGA TOUR debut” Pam Batalis, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of sponsorships and brand engagement, says.
Ahead of the Mexico Open last week, world No. 2 Jon Rahm offered this advice to PGA Tour newbies: “You have to go out there and try to win. Don’t come trying to make the cut. If you’re playing, play to win. If not, don’t play” and the words true to Odom Jr. who took that maxim to heart as he was coming up in the golf scene as an amateur to watch in Memphis.
“That’s what my dad used to say all time when I was playing a golf tournament. ‘If you’re not there to win, then why show up. So that’s all I can do and I also have fun at the same time,” Odom Jr. says.
In 2019 Steph Curry made a reported seven-figure six year commitment to fund Howard’s golf program and if the three-time NBA Champion hadn’t made the investment, Odom Jr. would probably still be playing his college golf for the University of Memphis where he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“As a senior in high school I swept the HBCU golf teams under the rug because of a lack of resources and the lack of coaching staff. Stephen Curry put the resources into place and we have an outstanding coach in Sam Puryear with an incredible background as an assistant coach at Stanford and the head coach at Michigan State and also having the support from Callaway is truly helpful for us to compete at the top level,” Odom Jr. says.
Curry continues to support initiatives to make golf more accessible and recently spearheaded the creation of the Underrated Golf Tour, an American Junior Golf Association accredited summer tour aimed at underrepresented youth. The all-expenses paid golf tour with players travel, accommodation and meals comped, tees off in June at Cog Hill Golf Club in Chicago and culminates in the Curry Cup at TPC Harding Park, just 11 miles from the Warriors’ arena, at the end of August.
“I think that’s the best thing that can happen right now. There has always been a mission linked to how to get more people involved in the game of golf and a non-professional golfer has come up with a way. I think that is truly amazing.” Odom Jr. says.
As far as his own future, Odom Jr. hopes to turn pro after he graduates next year, with the ultimate goal of one day earning a PGA Tour card.