by Wyndi Kappes, Photography by Elle Wood
Jeff Dunovant | Age: 55
Georgia PGA Player and Director of Golf Operations for First Tee – Metro Atlanta
A groundbreaking golfer, Jeff Dunovant finds his purpose and passion in giving back and educating young people of color on how to get into the game of golf. With a golf lineage steeped in Black history, Jeff is also the president of the National Black Golf Hall of Fame and enjoys competing in Georgia PGA tournaments. A role model on multiple fronts, Jeff recently went on a health journey to lose 40 pounds and now models even more healthy habits for his pupils.
Q: How did you get into golf?
Jeff Dunovant: My dad Harold Dunovant was the first Black man to graduate from PGA’s Business School and, along with many other Black golfers, paved the way for a path of inclusion. I always had a golf club in hand from the time I was born, but when I was 13, I decided to dedicate my life to golf. In 1993, I became a member of the PGA, and my father and I became the first Black father-and-son pair in the organization!
Q: How did you begin your journey to getting healthier and happier?
JD: It was 2018, and I realized I just didn’t feel comfortable in my clothes and wanted to feel and do better. Something I teach the kids I work with is healthy habits, and I took it upon myself to model those habits by working out at the YMCA, doing cardio exercises and cleaning up what I ate. I lost 40 pounds within the year and have kept it off since!
Q: What would you tell someone who is intimidated to pick up golf recreationally?
JD: The first thing I would say is that everyone can pick up golf, and you can do it at any age. Before you hop on the course and start hitting balls, I would advise you to get some instruction because golf is a sport of habits, and once you develop bad habits, it’s hard to ditch them.
Q: What is the most memorable putt you have ever been a part of?
JD: I, along with 11 other Black PGA professionals, was recently invited to watch Lee Elder be a part of the prestigious first tee ceremony at the 85th Masters. Seeing him recognized for all he has done was truly an emotional experience.
Q: Why do you love working with youth?
JD: I love reinvesting in the futures of kids of color. If they see me as a professional making a living working with and playing golf, they can imagine the same or a better future for themselves.