LaRee Sugg inducted into Black Golf Hall of Fame

LaRee Sugg enters National Black Golf Hall of Fame

October 2, 2023

University News

LaRee Sugg still remembers the first time she walked the links at 6 years old. Her late grandfather was the designated babysitter.

“I went wherever he went — and he went to the golf course every day,” said Sugg, deputy director of athletics for policy and sports management for the University of Richmond. “I asked if I could play. The next day, he got me a cut-down set of clubs and had my sandal shoes refashioned with metal spikes at the shoemakers — then off to lessons and a grand adventure.”

Her grandfather, a professor emeritus at Virginia State University, was one of the many friends, family, and fellow athletes that she thanked in her acceptance speech during her induction into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame on Sept. 16 in Atlanta.

Growing up in Petersburg, Virginia, Sugg was a four-time Golf Magazine Junior All-American, winning more than 30 junior titles including the North and South Junior and the Ohio State Junior Championships. At age 16, she qualified as an amateur to participate in the United Virginia Bank Golf LPGA Golf Classic.

After a decorated college career at UCLA, during which she led the Bruins to the 1991 national championship, Sugg turned pro, becoming just the third Black woman to play on the LPGA Tour.

She joined UR in 2001 as the school's first women's golf coach and was named CAA Coach of the Year in 2022. She later served as the men’s golf coach, then moved to leadership roles, beginning as assistant athletic director in 2005. Her current roles for the department include chief of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and senior woman administrator.

In her speech, she recounted the time when the sports world was more closed to Black athletes. Her sports heroes, including Althea Gibson, Renee Powell, Ann Gregory, Charlie Sifford, and Arthur Ashe, “competed with grace, dignity, intensity, passion, and often defiance in the face of segregation, racism, and hatred and were examples of how to follow your dreams and to make the world a better place through activism and participation in sport.”

She recalled that Ashe took the time to write her a letter during her freshman year at UCLA. He sent words of encouragement and shared that he had lived in the same residence hall.

Among the crowd were her husband Paul McRae, the first Black PGA teaching professional at the Resorts of Pinehurst, her son James McRae, and friends and co-workers Bruce Matthews and Courtney Hughes from Richmond Athletics.
"I am deeply humbled by this honor and recognition," Sugg said. "My grandfather, golf partner, and biggest fan, Dr. James C. Nelson, who instilled in me a love of the game and empowered me to always dream big, is smiling from heaven."