Fort Worth’s Gladys Lee has been a non-stop force in growing the
game of golf for almost 40 years.
Coach Lee, as she’s affectionately known to hundreds of
golfers she’s nurtured over the years, established the Texas International Stroker’s
Junior Golf Association in 1986 to help meet the special needs of
multi-cultural, socially economic and diverse youth through the game of golf. That
developmental program eventually was renamed to The Roaring Lambs International
Junior Golf Academy, but the mission has always remained the same.
In addition to her duties as Roaring Lambs’ Executive
Director, Lee also is a site director for the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf of Fort
Worth/West Dallas. But it’s not just the young people who have benefitted from
Lee’s calling to help others. She is now providing opportunities and
life-skills training for women through golf with progressive programs such as
DFW Fairways DIVAS for African American women, and LPGA Golf 101, a six-week
course where women teach other women to play golf.
Inspiring and mentoring women and girls is Coach Lee’s passion,
and she’s impacted countless lives through her years of hard work.
On June 21, Coach Lee and her Girls Golf of Fort Worth/West Dallas
program will be awarded with the LPGA Renee Powell Grant for $5,000 as part of
a movement for diversity in golf at the 21st Annual Juneteenth Williams and
Jordan Blair Memorial Charity Golf Classic at the Golf Club of Dallas. The
event is part of a Juneteenth celebration and aims to bring more inclusion and
community engagement from socially diverse demographics.
“For me to receive this award during this time is to recognize the
importance of Juneteenth,” Lee said.
Coach Lee, who also was awarded the 2018 Bill Penn Grant from the
TGA Foundation, is proud of her team’s efforts to expand diversity and provide
a supportive community for women and girls of color. Her LPGA Golf 101 program,
for example, helps women take their first steps to learning golf fundamentals. Once
they complete the six-week course, those golfers are eligible to join the DFW
“I am an advocate for women and girls of color,” Lee said. “I want
to show them that we can do just as well as anyone else. I hope to give
exposure to what we’re doing and that there is an opportunity to learn golf
from someone that looks like them.”
Celebrated in 47 states, the history of Juneteenth is incredibly
important and often overlooked. On June 19, 1866, Major General Gordan Granger
rode into Galveston and announced the Civil War was over. All who were enslaved
were then free. This announcement came two and a half years after President
Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect.
Coach Lee said she remembers how important Juneteenth
celebrations were to her community as a child.
“This is a time of togetherness for us,” Lee said. “I
remember going to my first celebration. They would have music and games and
they commemorated Juneteenth by having a BBQ with strawberry soda, strawberry
pie and red velvet cake.”
Lee, a self-proclaimed history buff, said all the red-colored
foods at the celebration symbolizes the bloodshed from the days of slavery. She
hopes to increase awareness of Juneteenth and the importance it holds.
“If people know the history, they can embrace it,” Lee said.
“They won’t forget it, and they can make things better by educating themselves
The 21st Annual Juneteenth William and Jordan Blair Memorial Charity
Golf Classic is hosted by Elite News, an African American-owned newspaper
dedicated to assisting its community and expanding diversity.
All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Blair
Foundation for Humanitarian Assistance and Social Services, a charitable fund
started by William Blair more than 70 years ago.
Elite News publisher Daryll Blair took over the company and
role from his brother Jordan, who took over from their father William Blair.
The Blair Foundation’s goal is to create agents of change within their
collective communities to help those in need socially, culturally and
Blair said he hopes the tournament will bring diverse social and
professional engagement to the community.
“We want to bring inclusion and engagement in golf racially as
well as with gender across the board,” Blair said.
Dr. Tony Evans, founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible
Fellowship Church in Dallas and owner of Golf Club of Dallas said he hopes the
club will continue to grow and become a center for community development.
“We want Golf Club of Dallas to be a place of diversity not only
for the golf community, but for families as well,” Evans said. “We wanted to
introduce the club as a place for social gathering for comprehensive community
engagement, unity, diversity as well as spiritual impact.”
For more information about the DFW Juneteenth celebration, click here. For more
information on Coach Lee and her programs, click here.