Driving Change: Doug Smith’s Impact as a New Voice in Golf
Doug Smith, Phoenix-based golf expert, TV correspondent, and podcast host, enters the scene as a fresh and transformative voice in golf. Originally published in the Arizona Informant.
Doug Smith, a golf expert, TV correspondent, and podcast host based in Phoenix, has entered the scene as a fresh and transformative voice in the world of golf. After picking up his first set of clubs at age four, Smith went on to become one of the few Black Division I collegiate golfers and the first Black player on the University of Louisville golf team.
Earning medalist honors at the 2005 National Minority Golf Collegiate Championship, Smith later joined the Florida A&M University golf team for his final two collegiate seasons. Despite the twists and turns—including the loss of his mother to pancreatic cancer and financial challenges during his pursuit of a professional golf career—Smith's resilience steered him towards a corporate role within the golf industry before finding his calling behind the microphone.
Nearly two decades after becoming the inaugural Black player on his college golf team, Smith continues to make inroads as one of the few Black men in golf broadcasting. “As a Black professional golfer turned golf-professional, my career goal is to grow the game of golf by making it representative of how America actually looks. If it looks, sounds, and feels more diverse, that's a win,” says Smith.
“My career path helped me realize that golf is a bridge, and by increasing access, this game can unite us, open doors, and have a positive lasting effect on more people’s lives. I’ve dedicated my professional life to creating opportunities for Black, brown, and other underrepresented people in the game. There was a time earlier in my career when I used to be afraid to say that out loud. I’m not afraid anymore, I think it's needed, and I believe golf is almost ready.”
In 2022, Smith left his corporate 9 to 5 to pursue broadcasting full-time. As an in-demand talent in sports, Smith’s relatable style appeals to a new generation of golfers who demand a more accessible and modern game.
With the launch of the "Beyond the Fairway" podcast on NBC Sports and the GOLF Channel, co-created and co-hosted with fellow golf broadcaster Will Lowery, Smith and Lowery are building bridges between golf and ‘our’ culture.
Recently celebrating its 100th episode, “Beyond the Fairway'' illuminates the evolving landscape of golf and its cultural dynamics through captivating interviews with celebrities, athletes, and influencers. Over the past three years, the show’s featured prominent figures like Steph Curry, CC Sabathia, Jeezy, Cheyenne Woods, and Anthony Anderson.
In addition to his groundbreaking podcast, Smith recently wrapped his second consecutive season as a broadcaster for PGA Tour Live, which airs on ESPN+ and was part of the first-ever all Black broadcasting team for the Golf Channel at the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open.
Reflecting on his journey, Smith remembers feeling othered for his love of golf as a young man. Smith hopes his national presence as a face and voice of golf encourages a sense of belonging for golfers who haven’t felt represented or embraced by the golf community.
According to the National Golf Foundation, 4.1 million African Americans played golf in the United States in 2021. Coupled with the growing rise of Hispanic golfers in the U.S., the industry recognizes the need to appeal to a younger and more diverse audience.
He’s encouraged by the great work being done by the APGA, a nonprofit founded in 2010 with the mission to bring greater diversity to the game of golf. The APGA Tour schedule of eighteen tournaments with over $800,000 in prize money plays a pivotal role in supporting underrepresented golfers and nurturing their talent.
“Golf is a dope tool for social mobility,” contends Smith. “It’s a transformative skill and it’s taken me to places and rooms I never thought I’d be in.”
Doug Smith’s journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring golfers and golf professionals, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. His unwavering commitment to representation and community is not only influencing the golf industry but also underscoring that golf is for everyone. With each stroke of progress, Smith propels golf towards a future that embraces inclusivity and innovation.