This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
I was really inspired by an article I read in this weekend’s NY Times penned by Larry Dorman. It’s about a gentleman by the name of Bill Powell, a veteran of WWII, a great-grandson of Alabama slaves, and a man who endured enormous indignities and discrimination but nonetheless persevered in achieving his entrepreneurial dream. His particular ambition was to design, build and run his own golf course.
Upon his return from the war no bank deigned to give him a loan and he was essentially denied the rights accorded to him in the G.I. Bill. Unbowed, he managed to scrape together some seed money for his venture, borrowing from his own brother and from two black physicians. He then proceeded to handle the rest on his own and slowly and steadily built a golf course from scratch. He finished with the front nine in 1948. After earning the means to buy some more land, he completed the back nine thirty years later- in 1978.
Today his Clearview Golf Club of East Canton, Ohio is on the National Register of Historic Places and Mr. Powell, who is now 92 years old, will shortly be receiving the PGA’s Distinguished Service Award.
I write quite a lot about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture and you can find my various posts on this subject here. These two passages below, however, said it all to me and embody somehow what being an entrepreneur is all about:
“He did much of the heavy work himself, clearing brush, pulling out fence posts and hauling away stones in a wheelbarrow. He seeded the fairways by hand, sometimes helped by Marcella, who died in June 1996 after 56 years of marriage.”
“He and my mother planted most of the trees you see there bordering the first hole,” she [his daughter] said. “When you think about what he was able to accomplish here, with everything that was arrayed against him, it really is quite amazing.”
For Part 6 of this Series, click here.