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P. O. Box 19432 Cincinnati, OH 45219
513-582-9126 info@thenomadsgolfclub.com

STANDART INLINE ELEMENTS

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BLOCKQUOTES

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“For 51 weeks of the year you can do whatever you like,” As Walt Bowers told “60 Minutes” Correspondent Armin Keteyian, “but that 52nd week – the last week of July – that’s Nomad week.”

- Dr. WalterBowers

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THE NOMADS

We are the Nomads, a brotherhood of 70 African American men who share a singular passion for golf. We meet once a year to tee it up while renewing friendships, exchanging ideas, and pondering the joys of our past and the wonder of our futures. Our members come from all walks of life, leaders in communities from coast to coast – doctors, lawyers, business executives, entrepreneurs – men of faith and family who, as black men in America, have traveled a similar path to excellence. We know that our success in life and the strength of our bond as a club is the by-product of several generations of struggles and triumphs. We take time each year to remember and celebrate, while creating more memories as Nomads.

“All the folks in the club have had to break barriers and this is what binds us,” according to Walt Bowers, the president of the Nomads. “Knowing we have all been involved in the struggle, this is a reminder that we are not alone.” Bowers, a retired obstetrician from Cincinnati, Ohio, has a streak of 21 years without an absence.

The annual Nomad meeting that Bowers leads begins on a Sunday night during the last full week of July. The members gather and reconnect over cocktails as club officers provide details of the activities for five days. We play four official rounds of golf – Monday through Thursday – including two tournament rounds, and many members play additional rounds into the late afternoon or spend time practicing. Each evening we reconvene for a business meeting – another club tradition – when the members share a beverage, talk some trash and enjoy fellowship. The business includes golf committee reports about course conditions, local rules and pairings; a report from the site committee with details of the next year’s meeting location; election of officers, and initiation of new members. On Thursday evening the members gather for the Nomad Awards Banquet, and the official club photograph. These meetings have been conducted like this, according to club by-laws, for almost 70 years.

The club was founded in 1950 by a group of doctors and lawyers in Chicago. They loved the game, but the game often did not seem to love then in return. At that time, the Professional Golf Association had a “Caucasians Only” policy and most golf courses in America mirrored the example set by the pros. The original members were denied access to most golf facilities, even golf courses in public parks. And so, the men adopted the name Nomads, because they were forced to travel to find courses that would allow them to play. Golfers without a home. Along the way, when they found places that welcomed them like Wicker Park in Hammond, Indiana or Rackham Golf Course in Huntington Woods, Michigan, they invited friends from Detroit and the seeds of the organization were planted. Soon golfers from Cleveland and Washington, D.C. made a yearly pilgrimage to join the Nomads.

Gene Woods, a Chicago lawyer and the club’s first president, was the organizing force behind the early years of the club. Noted members included Jesse Owens, Olympic gold medalist and hero of the 1936 games in Berlin; and, his teammate Congressman Ralph Metcalfe; Dr. T. K. Lawless a brilliant dermatologist and medical researcher whose south-side Chicago practice specialized in treatment of syphilis and leprosy; and, Frederick Wayman “Duke” Slater, a Chicago judge and former college all-American football player at Iowa. Slater was a 10-year veteran of the early years of the NFL before the league banned black players.

By trading on the celebrity of their most high-profile members, and the overall professionalism of the men in the club, the Nomads slowly expanded the roster of courses where they were welcomed. While seldom acknowledged, this push to gain equal access to public facilities was another front in the civil rights movement. The Nomads forced the question: why shouldn’t black professionals enjoy the same benefits of their labor, and the same entitlements of middle-class life as their white counterparts? As Rosa Parks was refusing to give us her seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama, the Nomads were insisting on their right to participate in all aspects of American life.

And as black Americans gained greater access to middle-class life in the 1960s, a new generation of golfers joined the Nomads. From Detroit came Waldo Caine, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, and Wendell Cox, a dentist who became a media entrepreneur; from Cleveland, Union leader Stretch Jenkins, and dentist Ted Mason; and from Oklahoma, Jesse Chandler, Sr, an obstetrician who became the chairman of the golf committee and affectionately known as “Chief” and dentist Frank Cox. Because membership in the Nomads has always been “by invitation only,” many of today’s members are tied to these second-generation members. Their stories about the founders of the club, and their personal accomplishments and magnetism provided the glue that continues to bind today’s Nomads to 70 years of Nomad history, and their legacy of struggle and triumph (for more, see the Nomad Oral History Project file on this site).

Today, when the grass grows thick and the sun’s heat gives the golf ball a little extra loft in the final days of July, the Nomads continue to meet, carrying on in the rich tradition of the founders. We are welcomed at the finest golf resorts in the country and have recently been sited at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, La Costa in San Diego, California, and Turning Stone in Upstate New York. The annual Nomad tournament is a flighted competition played over two days and features some of the best amateur golf in America, according to CBS News’ “60 Minutes” which featured a segment on the club in March 2017 on “60 Minutes Sports” on the Showtime Channel (please see vimeo link to watch the entire segment).