Baltusrol rolls out the red carpet 'fore' UMES golfers | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Baltusrol rolls out the red carpet 'fore' UMES golfers

  • Kiah descendent played a role connecting the university with the famed golf club

    Thursday, October 14, 2021

    The UMES women's golf team traveled to Springfield, N.J. Columbus Day weekend -- not to compete -- but to get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of one of America's best-known and historic golf courses. 

    The student-athletes accepted an invitation to visit Baltusrol Golf Club, which has played host to 17 “major” golf championship tournaments over its 126-year history. 

    Baltusrol member Tammye Jones arranged for the golfers to meet with the private club's senior leadership team in a first-of-its-kind activity that also included a meet-and-greet reception, formal dinner and two rounds of golf. 

    “This is something I wanted to do personally,” Jones said.  “I was looking for a way to expose (the students) to what Baltusrol is all about, how it operates - and provide them with a glimpse of the different roles and responsibilities they may pursue after school.” 

    The UMES delegation returned to Princess Anne with an $11,500 donation to support development of golf at the university.  One of the contributors was the grandson of the late Dr. Thomas H. Kiah, the fifth leader of UMES when it was known as Princess Anne Academy. 

    Jones, a golf enthusiast who holds two degrees from historically black institutions, wants to see the game she loves embrace diversity and earlier this year started casting about on the Internet in search of a nearby HBCU with a women's golf team. 

    She happened upon UMES, which she discovered is also the nation's only HBCU with a PGA-accredited undergraduate degree program built around the golf industry.  UMES golf management program prepares graduates for jobs ranging from resort management, club professional or working in the industry's niche retail sector.

    “It seemed like a perfect fit,” Jones said. 

    Jones reached out to Billy Dillon, the golf management program director who doubles as the women's golf coach, and after a series of conversations, a visit to Baltusrol was arranged. 

    "Baltusrol rolled out the red carpet for the UMES women's golf team and treated (each of) them as celebrities,” Dillon said. 

    Also traveling with the team was Dr. Pamela Allison, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management under which the golf management program operates. 

    "The (club's) members … were genuinely hospitable,” Allison said.  “The players were welcomed and celebrated by all in attendance. I truly believe these women will have an affinity for the Baltusrol Golf Club for a lifetime." 

    One of those in attendance at the Friday reception and dinner was Leonard S. Coleman Jr., a Baltusrol member since the early 1990s who advised the club's diversity and inclusion committee headed by John Berger on connecting with the university his grandfather once led. 

    “I was glad to do it,” Coleman said. “I think everyone benefited from the experience.” 

    Jones surprised the UMES delegation at Friday social event when she announced she had raised $6,700 from like-minded women golfers in her circle of friends. Inspired by that gesture, Coleman offered to round up the donation to $10,000 with a $3,300 contribution. 

    The final amount ended up being $11,500 when two others also stepped forward with gifts after they met the team. 

    “It was a glorious evening,” Jones said. “Everyone was so mannerly. I can tell you everyone was very impressed by those young ladies. They are a credit to your university.” 

    Berger, a retired CEO from the insurance industry, said he also has gotten positive feedback from club members who encountered UMES' student-athletes. 

    “It was such a pleasure to have the UMES golf team visit us,” Berger said.  “I think the young ladies had a great time, and I believe our members (who met them) feel the same way.” 

    Coleman spoke at Friday night's event, regaling the gathering with his personal story of his family's connection to UMES, which spanned nearly seven decades. 

    “All the forces were coming together, between my relationship (with the school) and Tammye's initiative to get an HBCU involved with Baltusrol,” Coleman said.  “We found a receptive audience with the directors of the club. I'm very pleased with the results.” 

    The visit also could pay dividends down the road for both parties, which agreed to explore ways the club might support UMES with internships, a golf management degree pre-requisite. 

    “The young ladies represented themselves and UMES in a very positive way, I could not be more proud of them,” Dillon said. “They have certainly paved the way for cultivating a positive relationship with the membership and staff at Baltusrol."