The Cleveland Country Club hosted veteran lifetime PGA Member Greg Powers on Monday for “The Invitational,” which is a Christian golf outreach ministry.
“Through Challenge Golf we get the opportunity to turn a lot of heads in the right direction,” Powers said.
A group of around 40 got to enjoy a day on the greens compliments of Challenge Golf and North Cleveland Church of God, followed up with a dinner and the chance to hear Powers share his inspiring life story.
Powers, who has been involved with Challenge Golf for the past two years, has a golf pedigree peppered with numerous successes, which include being a former Tennessee section player of the year, a former Tennessee Open and Tennessee PGA champion, and three runner-up finishes during his 17 years on the PGA tour.
According to tournament golf coordinator Sam Woolwine, during his runner-up finish to Ed Fiori at the 1981 Western Open, Powers set a record for nine holes with a six-under-par 30.
“I think more than anything else some of the highlights were some of the successes that I had in Tennessee in the 1970s. I won the state PGA three times and the state open once,” Powers commented.
At the highest point of his career, Powers was ranked 53rd in the world.
As Powers stated during his talk Monday evening, he had 17 years of reasonable success and is still recognized by avid golfers.
“Once I got on tour I had three runner-up finishes. Your high finishes in golf are always the thing that sticks with you,” Powers stated. “Also, having the opportunity to play major championships all over the world — five British Opens, getting to play with Greg Norman in the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1981, and having the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the world, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, those are some of the things that I can look back and relish — that I was a part of all that greatness in professional golf.”
Despite all of the various successes and opportunities Powers was afforded while on the Tour, his life was to take a drastic turn in 1992.
While getting ready for the Champions Tour, Powers made a stop in Nashville to participate in a charity golf event for the Boys & Girls Club of Tennessee. On his way home that night, Powers was in a horrific car crash that obliterated his entire left hip and had him laid up in the Williamson County Medical Center for seven weeks.
“I went from Senior Tour aspirations to being in a wheel chair for a full year. The doctor said I would never play golf again, and was unsure if I would even be able to walk,” Powers explained to the room.
Changes were inevitable for Powers, who became a born-again Christian on February 7, 1993.
“All of the successes I had on the tour were miniscule to the success of when I invited Jesus into my life,” Powers declared.
Instead of being on the PGA tour, Powers began to go on tour for a higher purpose, speaking at various Fellowship of Christian Athlete camps and other venues.
“If I turn one l heart for the Lord, then all of my pain and suffering was worth it,” Powers explained.
In 2001, his wife asked him if he would ever play golf competitively again. After daily prayer, Powers decided that in 2002 he would attempt to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open.
The prayer that Powers prayed was this: to qualify at the highest level, to earn his way in, and to be provided a platform to share his testimony.
Every prayer was answered as Powers did indeed earn his way onto the Senior Open after beating out 55 other players at the Dancing Rabbit course in Mississippi for the one lone spot there for the Open. He then got the chance to tell his story to the mainstream media after Jack Nicklaus had to back out of his press conference.
While golf has been an ever-present entity in his life, nowadays Powers gets the most enjoyment out of being able to speak to children and young people.
“The most enjoyable things that I do are things like this, where I get to share my testimony, especially with kids. I go to Fellowship of Christian Athlete camps — I went to one over in Pinehurst and I got to talk to over 400 kids,” Powers said. “If you can make a difference in a kid’s life it’s so beneficial because they are where it’s at. If we can steer a kid in the direction of doing what’s right, as opposed to doing what is wrong, then you feel like you’ve been productive in the life of somebody who is young.”
Powers is currently the head of instruction at TPC Sugarloaf in Atlanta and was recruited by a friend four years ago to become the director for the U.S. Kids Golf program, a PGA tour initiative.
“A friend of mine from Callaway Gardens in Georgia called me and asked me to help run spring, summer and fall tours for kids between 6 and 14 years of age. I’ve been with him for four years, and we run eight events in the spring, eight events in the summer and we’re into the third event of our fall series,” Powers explained.
“It’s been an opportunity to really get the chance to speak with and teach the kids. I never had any kids when I was married, so getting the opportunity to help other kids, that’s what really is a lot of fun. I like it when their parents come up and tell me that I’ve really made a difference in their child’s life.”