For the first time ever a black female golfer will join the LPGA Tour. Shasta Averyhardt qualified for the LPGA Tour last month becoming the first African-American woman to qualify for the Tour through a qualifying school. But she is actually the fourth African-American woman in the 60-year history of the LPGA.
Before her came: LaRee Sugg, Renee Powell and Althea Gibson, who each previously held Tour cards. But the 24-year-old Averyhardt is the only African-American who currently holds a Tour card. She tied for 22nd place and earned her status.
“Having Shasta qualify to play on the LPGA Tour means that not only is she doing something right, but we must finally be doing something right. We as a community, banding together to encourage and financially support our talented women golfers, helping them to take their game to the highest professional level,” says Debert Cook, publisher of African American Golfer’s Digest. “After 60 years of absence, longer than many had ever thought, it has now finally happened and we must make sure that it does not take another 60 years for the next young, black woman to reach this level.”
Previously, Averyhardt was a four-time All-American at Jackson State and a four-time SWAC champion at Jackson State. In addition, she also won the 2004 Michigan Powerbilt Junior Tour Championship, the 2005 Golf Association of Michigan Women’s Championship and the 2008 Michigan Women’s State Amateur Stroke Play Championship. Before turning pro, she won the 2009 Suncoast Event.
Financially, golf is still big business for players. According to the LPGA, in 2004, LPGA players competed for more than $42 million and an average purse of $1.3 million per full-field-official-money event. Compare this to 1999, when 12 LPGA events featured purses of at least $1 million or higher. But in 2004, at least 27 events featured purses of at least $1 million.
According to Cook, this is a major step forward for the world of golf. “She will absolutely encourage more women to enter golf,” says Cook. “She has become an instant role model for collegiate woman–and women everywhere, as to the success they can achieve if they dedicate and commit themselves to being their best in the sport and have a strong network of loyal supporters to back them up.”