PGA pioneer Jim Dent to play 2011 Shell celebrity golf tourney

  • Thursday, May 12, 2011

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD -- (May 12, 2011) - Jim Dent, one of the first African-Americans to play on the men's professional golf tour, will participate in the 2011 edition of the Art Shell UMES Celebrity Golf Classic and Junior Tournament. The event is scheduled for June 14 and 15 at Great Hope Golf Course near Westover, MD.

    Shell, a pro football Hall-of-Famer and University of Maryland Eastern Shore alumnus, again will be the host for the tournament, which features its traditional roster of former athletes who enjoy a round of fund-raising golf. Celebrity golfers include Shell's former teammates, friends and competitors from his football-playing days.

    The event is an activity of the UMES Foundation and benefits student scholarships in support of the university's PGA golf management program.

    As it did when it debuted a year ago, the Art Shell UMES Junior Tournament will feature an 18-hole tournament on June 14 for golfers ages 11-to-18.

    The next day, the Art Shell UMES Celebrity Golf Classic gets underway for adults with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.  Golfers will play 18 holes in a scramble format and attend an awards dinner in the Student Services Center on the UMES campus that evening. 

    Other celebrity-athletes who will tee it up June 15 include gridiron greats Otis Sistrunk, Reggie Branch, Ed Simmons and UMES alumni Curtis Gentry, Earl Christy and Emerson Boozer.

    The Shell tourney will be a reunion of sorts for Boozer and Dent, who were high school football teammates in Augusta, Ga. Dent has 16 professional golf tournament wins to his credit, including 12 on the Senior Tour.

    Two other history-making professional golfers will participate as well. One is James Black, who at age 21 became the first black golfer to card a first-round 67 in his PGA Tour debut in 1964. The other is Renee Powell, who joined the LPGA Tour in 1967 as the first female African-American golfer. Ms. Powell recently was awarded an honorary degree by UMES.

    UMES' Golf Academy director Marshall Cropper, the Shell tournament director and former player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins, said adding the junior tournament in 2010 was well-received.

    "We see having the junior golfers participate as a way of introducing them to a course of student at the university," Cropper said.  "Of course, we hold the tournament to raise funds to help students enrolled in our golf management program."

    UMES is one of 20 colleges in the nation with the PGA-sanctioned major, and the only one at a historically black institution. Students in the program not only hone their golf game, they also learn the business and marketing skills golf resorts and related venues look for in club professionals.     

    "Since this golf event began in 1991, it has always attracted the interest of local golfers - and the support of local businesses," said Cropper, a UMES graduate. "We and our students are counting on both again this year."

    Player registration is $200 per individual and $750 per foursome and includes 18 holes of golf with a celebrity, a Hawaiian Luau Pairing Party, food and beverages on the course, the awards dinner and commemorative gifts.  Non-golfers can attend the  Hawaiian Luau Pairing Party for $25 per person or $200 for a table of eight.  The reception features Maryland-style cuisine with hard crabs, live entertainment and a silent auction.

    Shell, who grew up in Charleston, S.C., said he's proud to be a UMES alumnus and enjoys being the host for a fund-raising event that benefits students - especially those who are the first in their families to attend college.

    "During difficult economic times, it is as important to rally together to support students who desire more, and who can acx