It’s about more than J.R. Smith.
Golf influencer Roger Steele is doing his part to highlight HBCU golf programs across the country as the host of the new series “Game Recognize Game” presented by United Airlines.
Recently, Steele spoke to rolling out about the show, his career and Black athletes’ involvement in the game of golf.
What are doing right now in the world of HBCU golf?
This year, myself, United Airlines, Skratch, which is a PGA Tour company, came together and wanted to shed some light on the talent that’s at a lot of these HBCU programs. We feel a lot of them go overlooked, and these are really people that are going to be the gateway to bridging the old and the new. We really want to focus on who they are, what they’re doing and have other people outside understand the opportunity [of] investing in HBCU golf. A lot of changes [are] happening in the golf landscape, and I feel the HBCU community is going to be a pivotal part of how all of this settles when the smoke clears. We wanted to go spend some time with the coaches, the programs, see what type of things they had going on and see what type of personalities were there. We had a great time this year, and the program’s doing very well.
When did you start playing golf?
When I was growing up, my dad introduced me to the game, but as a kid, it didn’t really resonate with me as much as he probably wanted [it] to. For a while, to be honest, I hid the fact that I knew about golf, that I played golf. I played a lot of basketball. I’m from Chicago, and during the Jordan era, basketball was everything. So golf was a part of my life, but it wasn’t something I was very vocal about and a large part was because I didn’t feel like I could be completely myself and because I felt like if I was myself, I wouldn’t be accepted in the sport. You risk damaging relationships and things of that nature. It wasn’t really until the time of, I want to say COVID, there was a lot of social unrest and I had a kind of a come to Jesus moment, where I was like, “I love this game. This game has done so much for me.”
What was it like working with J.R. Smith?
All of the schools were dope that we spent time with, but going to A&T, there was that “wow” factor of understanding that. J.R. is someone I looked up to for a while. Being a hooper, you have these perceptions of him, but it was dope to get down there with him and spend time in the golf space because what you saw on the basketball court and what you see on the golf course are two completely different people.