Original Golf 18

Save Black Spaces

Original Golf 18 is a grassroots organization that promotes the preservation and sustainability of Hiawatha Golf Club in south Minneapolis. Our mission is to inform the public about the historical and present-day significance of Hiawatha and the existential threat posed by a Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board plan to reduce the course to 9 holes. The OG18 documentary film BRONZEVILLE, now in production, will highlight the struggles African Americans have faced entering and thriving in a traditionally whites-only space. Even with nearly nine decades of successful operation of Hiawatha, the Black community finds itself in a struggle to save this historic, championship-caliber course.

President of The Bronze Foundation

Darwin Dean

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board’s proposal to close the 18-hole golf course contradicts its work with the National Civic League about Building Equity into Parks and Rec. Now is the time to celebrate the historic, 18-hole Hiawatha Golf Club, and ensure its preservation for future generations. In the name of social justice as well as equity in the distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges, I urge residents of Minneapolis to contact their Park Board commissioner and relay a simple message: Save Hiawatha! 

Read more > Black Lives Matter at Hiawatha Golf

Black History Month, 2022

African-Americans in Minneapolis rely on Hiawatha Golf Course as an important gathering point. It was the first course in the Upper Midwest that allowed Black golfers to play (1938), and the first to allow Black players in its clubhouse (1952). This 8-minute documentary by NBC Sports, produced in honor of Black History Month, explains just how important Hiawatha is. The film is informative for people who aren’t interested in golf. Here’s the story: For the last 7 years, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has been working on a plan to shorten the course and re-purpose some of the land for other activities like BMX trails, a dog park, and kayaking. This plan was voted down by the 9-member Park Board twice last year, but the Plan remains a possibility because 7 new members were elected to the board in November. So last year, I reached out to professional golfer Tom Lehman, a Minnesotan who played Hiawatha as a young man. This fall, Mr. Lehman visited Hiawatha with me, shared his willingness to protect its cultural and golf heritage, and sat for the NBC Sports interview. Subsequently, he has recruited engineering and design experts to help find a solution to save Hiawatha. Lehman Design Group has designed and built golf courses all over the United States, including Edina Country Club. Thank you for watching, Darwin Dean President Bronze Foundation #savehiawatha #blackgolfers #minneapolisparks

Tom Lehman and Darwin Dean discuss future of Hiawatha Golf

Documentary Clip: Professional golfer Tom Lehman comes to Minneapolis to discuss the future of Hiawatha Golf Club with Black community leaders including former MN Vikings. November 09, 2021 

Black leaders at Hiawatha Golf Club in south Minneapolis reach out to famed Minnesota professional golfer and course designer Tom Lehman in a bid to find an ally in saving the historic course. On November 9, 2021, Tom Lehman arrived for an in-person meeting with Darwin Dean, president of the Bronze Golf Tournament. Dean, who reached out to Lehman via letter in late July 2021, was elated to receive a phone call and a subsequent meeting at Hiawatha Golf to explore the possibility of saving the course from overzealous environmentalists. 

“We’ve heard the 90-year-old course is unsustainable by certain folks at the Minneapolis Park Board. But we’d like to get a second opinion,” said Dean. “Maybe the guy who redesigned Edina Country Club would be a good choice to help here at Hiawatha Golf Club,” Dean said, referring to Tom Lehman, who is president of Lehman Design Group. Lehman, in an interview with NBC Sports Golf Channel, “There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a home here for a golf course for the next 90 years.” 

The Golf Channel was there making a documentary on the history of Hiawatha Golf which will debut this coming February for Black History Month.

Darwin Dean also mentioned that “Every time communities of color feel comfortable in a place it always ends up being tampered with, changed.” In January 2022, a new Minneapolis Park Board will be seated and will have only one member of color out of 9 commissioners. It’s recognized that the intersection points of the individual park districts south of downtown divide up a large community of color in a classic gerrymandering style. 

Woods into the inner-city

MINNEAPOLIS — Golf star Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, stopped in Minneapolis to lend moral support and a few golf pointers to youngsters and their parents living in the inner city.

The men chose Minneapolis on Sunday as one of five stops this year for a Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Golf Clinic.

Earl Woods, 67, honored men who have been learning how to be better parents at Minneapolis’ Center for Fathering. In the Central, Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods where many of them live, 78 percent of the households are fatherless. Read the story… At ESPN.com 

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Faces of Hiawatha Golf

Decades of tradition, dedication, and persistence have shaped Hiawatha Golf Club in south Minneapolis. It opened in 1934, and the Black community soon broke barriers of segregation to take advantage of the public golf course. In 1957, boxing heavyweight champion Joe Louis won the Bronze Tournament here, and in 1999 Tiger Woods came to Hiawatha to inaugurate the First Tee Program. Today, the Bronze Tournament continues, including with a Junior Championship, and the course is home to more than a dozen high school boys and girls teams.


Joe Lewis 1957
Women Golfers 1955

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