Alex K.W. Schultz
Special to Colorado Community Media
After playing basketball since he was hardly bigger than a basketball, playing and coaching hoops at the collegiate level, and working for an NBA team’s minor league squad, Davyon Collins is taking his knowledge and skills to …The golf course?
Yes, the golf course. It actually makes perfect sense once you’ve gotten to know who Collins is and what the 26-year-old stands for.
Last year, the Houston native packed his bags and headed north to begin working as the second-ever PGA WORKS Fellow for the Colorado PGA Section, which is based in Larkspur.
Funded by the PGA of America’s charitable arm, PGA WORKS is a strategic initiative designed to diversify the golf industry’s workforce. The fellowship program offers a one-year, paid immersion in the Colorado PGA Section, giving fellows a taste of what a career in the golf industry can provide.
Collins said the game of basketball opened many doors for him. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dallas Christian College, where he played point guard and was a four-year Academic All-American and voted team captain his senior season. He received a master’s degree from Dallas Baptist University, where he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant. After graduating from DBU, he spent a year on the Southwestern Assemblies of God men’s basketball coaching staff. His education and knowledge of the game helped him land a community development and gameday operations gig with the Texas Legends, who are the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA G League affiliate.
Now, the basketball lifer is turning his attention to the world of 9-irons and birdies and fairways, hoping to use the game of golf to open doors for others, including and perhaps especially those who didn’t know those doors existed in the first place.
“The game of golf is kind of tucked away,” Collins said. “People know about it because it’s in front of their faces, but I’ll ask someone the question, ‘Have you seen a course? There’s a course two minutes away that you pass by every day that you don’t know anything about.’”
Collins said people will drive by the same golf course time and again without ever thinking about stopping for any number of reasons: they fear they’ll be judged for their golf skills, or lack thereof; they don’t even know where to begin (“Should I get a cart first?” “Where do I even get a cart?” “Where’s the driving range?” “Does this course have a dress code?”); or, worse yet, they may feel like they don’t “belong” based on their sex or the color of their skin.
Hop online and you’ll see what Collins is getting at. A Google search for “PGA Tour player demographics” yields results like “Golf’s Lack of Color” and “Diversity Remains Golf’s Biggest Challenge.”
According to a Golf Diversity & Inclusion Report published a few years ago, the makeup of American golfers at all levels is 77% male and 80% white. Among golfers in the professional ranks, 75% are male and 86% are white. And golf-industry workers — everyone from caddies to greenskeepers — are 90% male and 88% white.
“Out of all the sports, other than hockey, I would say golf has the most room for growth when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” Collins, an African American, said. “The game is, to be totally honest, an older, male game. It’s mostly 45-and-older men who play it.
“I feel like within the game of golf, you don’t need the money. The money (to enhance the game’s diversity and inclusion efforts) is there. You just need people who care about other people.”
Collins wants to be and has been one of those people.
As the local PGA WORKS Fellow, he supported PGA REACH Colorado’s charitable programs, which include the Colorado PGA Junior Tour; the PGA Jr. League; Golf in Schools; Drive, Chip & Putt; and PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) — all of which are designed to grow the game of golf and make this “tucked away” game available to people of all ages, ethnicities and skill levels.
“My heart’s in growing the game and getting it into the hands of people who have never played,” Collins said. “For me, it’s really important to get them in the game so they can teach their children and so on and so on, and also to break the ‘This is a 45-year-old white man’s sport’ stereotype.”
Apparently, Collins is doing the job he was hired to do … and then some.
Six months into his one-year fellowship, which began in May 2022, he was offered a full-time job with the Colorado PGA Section. He’s now the manager of the section’s Junior Development Series, which gives players ages 6-18 an opportunity to gain competitive golf experience in a more relaxed and fun environment.
In addition to now managing the junior series, Collins is still supporting all the national initiatives he promoted while working as a fellow, including the Drive, Chip & Putt junior skills competition.
In fact, Collins will be at the Masters Tournament next week at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia to help coordinate the Drive, Chip & Putt National Championship, which will take place the Sunday before the Masters tees off on April 6.
Think about that for a moment — a 26-year-old who had never played golf or even swung a club before landing the fellowship will be at professional golf’s biggest event.
“I can’t wait. It’s going to be so exciting,” said Collins, who eventually wants to work in a diversity and inclusion capacity for the PGA of America. “The practice rounds are what I’m most excited about. I’ve heard those are the best.”
It’s safe to say that a door to a world Collins initially knew nothing about was opened to him.
He’s waded into that world.
And he’s enjoying every moment of it.