Steph Curry

How Steph is taking golf to spaces Tiger Woods did not

NBC Universal, Inc.

Headlines informing us that Warriors superstar Stephen Curry won a celebrity golf tournament Sunday are factual but grossly understated because the greater good of his triumph amplifies a more transcendent goal.

Having already reshaped the geometry of global basketball, Curry is determined to alter the demographics of golf. Winning a tournament – any tournament – donates to his cause.

But ... becoming the first Black participant to win the American Century Championship in its 34-year history makes the kind of social statement that Curry is as passionate about as the game itself.

“Everything I've been doing is promoting the game of golf and trying to bring energy to the game, it’s about that mission,” Curry told reporters in Tahoe. “So, for all the people that watched this tournament just because I was in it or saw a highlight or whatever it is, it's a great inspiration that maybe the game of golf is something that they should try and how much it creates community, how much it helps build character and life skills and networking and all that.

“To know that I'm the first Black sports athlete, whatever you want to call it, to win this tournament, it's an honor.”

Curry has spent much of his professional life trying to open doors for others. It once was speculated that the success and presence of the great Tiger Woods would lead to a more diverse professional tour. The wait continues. Tiger’s efforts at his peak pale in comparison to the energy put forth by Steph.

Curry this month received the PGA’s Ambassador of Gold Award. He’s the first athlete outside the PGA to accept this honor, which dates to 1981. It’s a symbol of distinction that has yet to reach the hands of Tiger.

Curry labors up close. He is four years into a pledge to direct millions of his own money to resurrect the golf program at Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, D.C. The school already has become the No. 1 HBCU program in America.

Steph’s victory in Tahoe came between appearances on his 2023 Underrated Golf Tour, which resumes this week in Las Vegas and makes it way in August to San Francisco, where it concludes.

The mission of Underrated Golf? To “provide a positive, competitive, safe space environment for culturally diverse male and female junior golfers.”

Curry is serious about talking the talk, but he’s absolutely devoted to walking the walk. He is not content with countless NBA accolades and merely being the man behind the Steph Era of basketball. It’s a spectacular stuff, to be sure, but much too limiting for a man who aches to change lives.

And Curry realizes that he is, with his broad popularity and joyous personality, positioned to precisely do that.

Curry took another massive step in that mission by winning on Sunday. More eyes are on him than anyone else. More cameras followed him than anyone else. His gallery is the largest in a field of more than 80 golfers.

And though the crowd (more than 70,000, per officials) paid great sums to attend, the nationally televised event (NBC) gave Curry a profile accessible to the entire nation. To the financially fortunate and those who can afford a TV. To those people of all races, religions and ethnicities.

Curry’s performance on Sunday, coming after a hole-in-one on Saturday, was in its own way as magnetic as some of Tiger’s work on the final day. Overcoming a series of putts that teased a succession of holes, Steph came back to eagle the 18th, earn the roar of the crowd, hug and kiss members of his family, take home another trophy and send everyone home with a smile and a memory.

“It's a tremendous honor, accomplishment,” Curry told reporters in Tahoe. “[It’s] a mission I've been on, creating access, equity and opportunity in the game, with all the other things that I've been trying to do to help the next generation.”

“This is a small kind of reminder, validation, getting clubs in the hands of Black and Brown kids earlier, to get them access to the game. There's talent there. I feel blessed my dad played in the league, we had the resources, access to the places.”

Yes, it’s a celebrity tournament and, therefore, allows for considerable party time. But Curry, who plays golf whenever his schedule allows, was competing against a field stacked mostly with retired athletes who play several times a week. He is the first active athlete to win the tournament since Tennessee Titans kicker Al Del Greco in 2000.

Wardell Stephen Curry II is the first Black athlete to win this tournament. Period. And it’s safe to presume he believes his exploits can inspire all people, but his mission is to reach youngsters who look like him.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us