Home Golf From HBCU to KFT, Willie Mack III’s inspiring journey through professional golf

From HBCU to KFT, Willie Mack III’s inspiring journey through professional golf


Willie Mack III received his Korn Ferry Tour card Monday in Savannah, Georgia, but his story begins at Bethune-Cookman in 2006.

Mac, a native of Flint, Michigan, traveled to Florida and began his college career at HBCU, launching a golf career that few could have predicted would thrive nearly two decades later.

Thriving at a young age, Mack won 11 times in college before becoming the first African American to win the Michigan Amateur Championship in 2011.

Willie Mack III recorded 8 starts at KFT Q-School

Willie Mack III recorded 8 starts at KFT Q-School

Winning that championship and making history, Mack spent much of the next decade on mini-tours around the country, even sleeping in his car for a year and a half, chasing his dream of making it to the PGA tour.

Enter APGA.

The Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour, created in 2010, was created to provide minorities with more opportunities to play at a professional level.

In 2010, the APGA had a total purse of $40,000, minimal corporate sponsorship, and two open-field tournaments. There are 14 tournaments this year with a total prize pool of over $500,000, each with a minimum prize pool of $7,500 for first place and up to $25,000 for the winner.

APGA tournaments are now played at Tournament Players Club and PGA Tour venues such as TPC Sawgrass, TPC Scottsdale, TPC Deere Run, US Open Torrey Pines, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup Valhalla. On board for corporate support are the PGA Tour, Lexus, MasterCard, Farmers Insurance, and PGA of America, offering not only competition but career development and mentoring resources.

Farmers Insurance not only supports the APGA, but is Mack’s biggest sponsor.

Mack has found success in the APGA using his dominance in his first PGA Tour start at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open. He showed it the following month at the Genesis Invitational after being named a Charlie Sifford Memorial exemption recipient by Tiger Woods. An exception has been granted since 2009 to a golfer who represents a minority.

Willie Mack

The rising Mac will continue his excellent APGA play, increasing his total wins to now dwarf 70 on various tours, and earning more starts on the Korn Ferry and PGA tours.

He made one cut on the Korn Ferry Tour and two on the PGA Tour, all coming in 2021, but now he’s got Korn Ferry Tour status for the first time and eight guaranteed starts thanks to his finish this week at KFT Q-. School Final Stage, which was attended by his brother Alex on a bag.

“It’s been a long road,” Mack said after his final round, 5-66 on Monday in Savannah, Georgia. “I’m glad I was able to put myself in the position to be able to shoot a good round on the final day and move up the leaderboard. It was a long time ago. It’s special. It was pretty cool that my brother in the bag goes through every stage. Hopefully he can cadd more in some tournaments and we can play well.”

It wasn’t just his brother’s help that brought Mack to this point; it is also the unwavering support of his parents. His father, Willie Mack Jr., spoke to the golf channel as Mack neared the end of his final round.

“I’m very proud,” Mac Jr. said. “I’m proud. His mother is proud. He had a trip: he slept in his car for a year and a half, mortgaged my house twice. And that’s why you don’t mind doing these things for your child when he does something good. He did that something very important to you.”

Willie Mack III
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Mack III wins APGA Tour championship, POY

OT Associated Press

Willie Mack III ran off with three early birdies to break away and closed out 8 to 64 on Tuesday for a six-shot win.

There was a lot of positive on Monday for Mack, who advanced to the final round with a tie of 41.st.. All players who made it to the final stage of the KFT Q-School have already received conditional status, but only those who finished in the top 40 could start with a guarantee. The winner will have a fully exempt status, with those who finish 2nd to 10th guaranteed a start in the first 12 events and those who finish 11th to 40th a guaranteed start in the first eight events.

It was a story about two 9s for Mac in the final round when he opened with a bird and an eagle, finding himself 5 under par after seven holes.

Comfortably in the top 40 after a hot start, all he had to do was play clean golf on his way home, and that’s exactly what he did. Two pairs to close out the top nine were followed by nine more to put Mack 7 under the club in a week, resulting in a T-12 finish.

“That’s what Willy should have done,” Mac’s brother Alex said after the final round. “That’s what he was sent to this earth for, to play this game. We have bad rounds, bad tournaments and so on. It does not matter. When you look at a small chart and it goes down, it goes up again.”

Mack describing his journey as “a long journey” is certainly an understatement and the journey is not yet over, but he has much to be proud of as he will now be among those chasing PGA Tour cards in 2023.

His father gave a simple but eloquent answer when asked about Mac’s persistence in getting from where he was ten years ago to where he is now:

“I always told him if you believe in something, in your dreams, just never give up, and he didn’t.”

Source: www.golfchannel.com