Steph Curry finds joy—and a new life mission—in young Black golfers

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  • Published on June 23, 2023
  • In Culture

When he’s not on the court, the NBA star levels the playing field for young athletes on the fairway.

Ask NBA star Steph Curry why he launched Underrated Golf, and he’s likely to dish a couple of hard stats: only two Black men are among the top 100 professional golfers worldwide, and only one Black woman is in the top 300. Even more, the pipeline of Black young amateur golfers is equally discouraging. These days, the tougher question is whether Curry, king of long shots, can attract Black youth to a sport rooted in white affluence and racial discrimination, and that many kids consider, well, booo-ring!!! In golf parlance, Steph is now putting for birdie. After a successful debut last year, The Underrated Golf Tour tees off again for a second annual tour, starting in West Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday with 96 athletes participating in tournament-style events and team-building activities, as well as networking with college golf coaches and golf executives.

Boasting such corporate partners as KPMG, Cisco, United, Chase and more, Curry says his mission is to increase the participation numbers amongst competitive golfers from diverse communities.

“The forthcoming Underrated golf tournament serves as another inspiring step forward in our mission to act as a gateway for young, underrepresented golfers, encouraging them to showcase their exceptional abilities while they play on esteemed golf course nationwide,” said Curry, an avid golfer, in a prepared statement. “This is a special time and I know these young golfers will elevate the sport for generations to come.” For this year’s tour, the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) has sweetened the winner’s pot by increasing the amount of stars awarded to winning boys and girls participating in the tour, including a full exemption for AJGA membership for winning the finale Curry Cup.

Will Lowery and Stephen Curry bonded over golf and their North Carolina roots. Here, they are promoting Underrated Golf’s First Annual Curry Cup in 2022. Noah Graham Courtesy of Underrated Golf

“Golf is expensive,” says golf pro Will Lowery, an Underrated tour ambassador who’s focused on DEI efforts to make the sport more accessible. “I mean, to play these golf courses, like West Palm, it’s $130 for a round. In Akron, Ohio, we’re having it at Firestone which is a private golf course that you can’t have access to it. Chambers Bay, which was the site of the US Open in Seattle, it takes a lot just to have access to get there because it’s in the middle of nowhere.” He adds: “That’s the pure element of access right there. So when we tell these kids that we’re playing at these awesome venues, to see their face light up, to see the emails and text messages I’m getting, like, Are you serious? Are you serious? We’re playing there! I mean, that’s enough in itself.”

Last year, Stephen Curry and UNDERRATED Golf Championship attendees during the First Annual Curry Cup at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. Noah Graham Getty Images for UNDERRATED Golf

The Underrated tour includes rounds at The Park West Inn in West Palm Beach, Fla (June 25-27), The Firestone Country Club in Akron Ohio (July 6-8), Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas, NV (July 18-20), and Chambers Bay in Seattle, WA (August 7-9). Ultimately, 24 of the best boys and girls will emerge from the tour to compete for the Curry Cup at the UNDERRATED Tour Championship at Lake Merced in San Francisco, CA, from August 20-23.