Harold Varner III believes small number of black pros in golf is caused by lack of access
Varner: "Any time that someone wants to be great at something, they have to have the opportunity to experience it"
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 11/06/20 3:09pm
Harold Varner III insists the lack of black professional golfers on the PGA Tour is due to a lack of access for young players interested in the sport.
Varner admitted he was fortunate to be able to play regularly in his youth with his father at a local municipal course, but the same opportunities are few and far between for many, while the cost is another issue that drives too many youngsters away from golf.
The 29-year-old, one of only a handful of black players on Tour, posted an emotional message on social media in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, describing the killing as "senseless" and "evil incarnate" while also criticising those who took part in the looting and rioting that broke out during protests across the US.
The debate over racial inequality and injustice has continued to gather pace in all walks of life worldwide, with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan vowing to be "part of the solution" moving forward and taking part in lengthy discussions on and off camera with Varner last week.
"What's the problem? I've talked about this a hundred times, a million times. It's access," said Varner ahead of this week's return to competition at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas.
There is a lot of of beauty and love in this world. I pray for equality & social justice as we all so desperately deserve that in this day and age. I pray for humanity even more because regardless of color, WE need each other to make that change. Stay safe. Love you guys ✊🏿✊🏽✊🏻 pic.twitter.com/LrFEff94IF— Harold Varner III (@HV3_Golf) June 1, 2020
"Any time that someone wants to be great at something, they have to have the opportunity to experience it, learn how to get better. It's just so expensive to play golf, and that's the problem, to be honest with you."
The primary aim of Varner's HV3 Foundation is to "provide affordable access to youth in sports" and he added: "I think that as long as it's more aware that that's the problem. Like growing up, no one was talking about access to golf because I had access. I got to play a little muni all the time.
"It doesn't become a problem until it's not there, like anything in life. No one understands how much someone cares about something until it's taken away, and I think COVID-19 has taught us a lot of that, so we're going to make it better in our community and hopefully grow that.
"There are some great programmes out there that I've been able to talk to that just care about the access to golf. It's an important sport, it teaches a lot of stuff, not only how to be better at golf but how to be a better human in this society."
Varner insisted he has not had any issues "fitting in" since earning his PGA Tour card, while he believes his talks with Monahan will help "continue the discussion" in the future, and he is looking forward to regular audiences with the commissioner.
"I think there will be discussion," he added. "I think some will forget about it, I think so many people will move on, but the conversation I had with Jay when we weren't being recorded, I think this week won't be the last week, because it's getting to the point where everyone has a voice that if the PGA Tour was to forget it, they would get hounded every day.
"So it's just kind of like yes, they're pressured, but I also think that it's the right thing to do, and I think Jay knows that, so I'm super behind him on that, and we got to talking about some things where I come from, what I think about it.
"I'm just super fortunate to be able to say something and it matter but also be a part of the change. Everyone in this society right now is going to be a part of that."