Groundbreaking Golfer Jeff Dunovant Models Success for Today’s Youth

Jeff Dunovant swinging his club
by Wyndi Kappes, Photography by Elle Wood

Jeff Dunovant | Age: 55

Sport: Golf

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.

For more information about First Tee and the National Black Golf Hall of Fame, visit firstteeatlanta.org and blackgolfhof.org

Meet 10 other Atlanta athletes setting the standard for success on and off the court here.

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