Maulana Dotch, first Black woman to serve ad general manager at the Hermann Park Golf Course in Houston.

Maulana Dotch has cemented herself as the first Black woman Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) member to serve as general manager at the Hermann Park Golf Course in Houston.

The PGA of America is the world’s largest sports organization with nearly 29,000 PGA professionals. Dotch makes up fewer than 1 percent of African-American members, and just under 10 percent are women. That along with her journey as a professional golfer fueled her passion to promote diversity and inclusion in the game, while welcoming the next generation of young talented golfers from different backgrounds to embrace the sport.

The Irving, Texas native’s resume is long and has made milestones well before making history at a General Manager. She earned her PGA Membership in 2010, and was the second Black woman to become a member following the golf icon PGA Hall of Famer member Renee Powell. She served as PGA Head professional since 2014, and in was selected as PGA LEAD (leadership development program) in 2018.

She is taking those experience into her new role, and she spoke with the Defender to share her journey in the sport, and what the community can expect from her here in Houston.

Defender: Where did your interest in Golf first begin?

Dotch: My dad was a weekend Golfer. He would play every Sunday morning and my older brother played as well. My dad would take my older brother to class to practice. And then when he got hurt on his job, he was going through his physical therapy and recovery, he started teaching my younger brothers and I how to play golf. I didn’t like it in the beginning. It was kind of forced on me. We would get up and practice every day. That’s when the battle started. I didn’t mind practicing once in a while but everyday seemed a bit much. Eventually, I started getting better and placed in tournaments and then I thought to myself that this might not be so bad.

Defender: How did your father’s journey help you become a better player and leader?

Dotch: My dad was born in Mobile, Alabama. He was born in the 1940s through the Jim Crow era. His introduction to golf was by being a Caddie. He couldn’t play. When he was younger, he would go to the golf course and caddy for $2 a day. He was going to make sure his kids played the game because he was never given the chance. It was ingrained in us like this is what we have to do. He eventually learned the game and once we got older, he passed on his knowledge to us.

Defender: For those who aren’t familiar with Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA), What is it and how did it help develop you as a player?

Dotch: It’s basically an organization of men and women who are considered golf professionals. So, there is PGA of America and PGA Tour. The tour is for professionals you see playing on television. I am a PGA of America member, which consists of individuals who are pro that run golf courses. So, all golf courses across the country have a PGA member as their pro on a sanctioned or regulated golf course. To become a member, you have to be able to play, teach, you have to learn the business of golf, the industry, equipment, how to teach, how to run an operation, do tournaments, food and beverage management, and everything that encompasses running the course. It’s all about growing golf and operating a facility.

Defender: How was it like being the only Black woman in this competing at times?

Dotch: Golf is a different type of game. It’s not a team sport. It’s very individualized. When you make it to high school or college, you do play on a team but you still play solo. It took growth on my end and to have confidence in myself branch out and see what is out there for me. When I was growing up, there were no other Black girls playing golf where I was from. I had to be okay with being the only one when I was playing in tournaments same thing for when I’m at the golf course. Sometimes I would tell myself like wow I’m not supposed to be doing this. I’m not supposed to be here. Sometimes you don’t have that cheering squad or fan fanbase. It would just be me and my dad. Once I realized that I want to stay in the golf industry, it didn’t bother me too much to walk into the space and realize it’s just me. I still have a presence. 

Defender: How have you been able to encourage the next generation of people of color and women to embrace opportunities in golf?

Dotch: I’ve been big on that because of how I started in the game. I think if I had some friends who played golf, it would have been a little bit easier for me. I do ladies clinics. I started a foundation earlier this year called Journey through 18 and its for girls of color, Black girls, to learn how to play golf. We do PGA girls golf, where they learn to play the sport, and there’s an element of mentorship, growth, and development. We do leadership academies, and different workshops using golf as the vehicle. They all come here to have that community, to make friends, and grow in the game together. It’s all about visibility for me. I want the girls to see no barriers.

Defender: What plans do you have to take the golf course to the next level?

Dotch: I think I do that. The maintenance of the golf course, keep it updated, keep our carts looking good. I think where I can have the largest impact is growing the game portion of it. I like activity. I like that there is always something going on. I’m trying to get involved in the community, and partnering with different organizations to have events to get kids out to hit some balls at the clinic. Some people in the neighborhoods have never been to the course and they live around here. I want to provide that access.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...