The Riviera Beach community continues to honor a long-time golfer for going the distance to ensure students stay on the right course.
Ms. Vickie Kingdom moved to Palm Beach County more than 40 years ago and has been introducing children to the game of golf ever since.
However, getting on the greens in Palm Beach County decades ago was not an easy feat for an African American woman.
“At that time, there were no ladies playing because guys couldn’t even play,” said Vickie Kingdom about the racial boundaries that denied African Americans the ability to play on golf courses throughout Palm Beach County. “The caddies might play on Monday, but they certainly wouldn’t be playing during the week. And ladies? Forget about it.”
However, Kingdom decided to channel the adversity she experienced through the sport.
Her dedication to the game paved a career path at the PGA National Golf Club and ultimately broke down barriers along the way.
“I was working in the kitchen and when they opened up the member’s club I knew I wanted to go over there,” Kingdom said. “So sure enough, I went over there. They cut my salary, but I went over there. Ever since I was there, I had a great time. The ladies were nice to me.”
Kingdom was known for her birdies on the golf course and made four holes-in-one during her career.
“I got to play with the men a lot, because not many women had the same handicap that I had,” said Kingdom. “A lot of them we were playing competitive golf and then I’d go up there and make a birdie and they would hug me to death.”
In 2019, she was inducted into the African American Golfers Hall of Fame.
She was acknowledged for the strides she made in the sport to build a career and to serve as the first African American locker room attendant at PGA National Golf Club.
“By being in the locker room I saw all the celebrity golfers that came in,” said Kingdom.
Kingdom also met President George H. W. Bush in 1988 during his visit to PGA.
“He happened to be there and we took pictures together,” Kingdom said.
Kingdom’s talents on the greens led her compete in various golf tournaments along the east coast from upstate New York to Miami.
“I had trophies from most of the places,” said Kingdom.
She was awarded her first trophy for golf in 1975 and collected several over the decades that followed.
Her achievements now serve as a road map for Inner City Youth Golfers, Inc.
“She earned those trophies during the years,” said Malachi Knowles, founder of Inner City Youth Golfers, Inc. “She still has the treasures, so we said our young kids today to earn their treasures while they’re young.”
The non-profit organization was established to fill a community need for at risk children of ages 10-18.
Inner City Youth Golfers, Inc. uses the game of golf as a catalyst for children to focus their attention on making positive choices.
Kingdom is encouraging more students to learn the sport.
“Golf is such a nice sport,” said Kingdom. “You can play it until you’re 100 years old if you want to.”