African American Golfer's Digest
NEWS: According to findings by the National Golf Foundation, minorities have a definite presence in golf and the relationship between income and participation is as strong, if not stronger, in minority populations. INFO:Minorities are attractive candidates for golf and there is a large untapped pool of latent demand. STATS: Total golf participation by minorities is 5.5 million with non-Hispanic Whites making up 31.2 million. INFO: Of the total of minority golf participants African Americans make up 2.2 million, Hispanic Americans make up 1.7 million and Asian Americans make up 1.5 million. STATS: In total golf participation White males make up 64.4%, White females make up 20.6%, African Americans make up 6.3%, Hispanic Americans make up 4.6% and Asian Americans make up 4.1%. NEWS: Golf participation rates among those age 5 and up who played at least one round of golf or visited a practice facility: Non-Hispanic Whites 16.7%, Asian American 13.7%, African American 7.0%, Hispanic American 5.4%. STATS: Golf participation rates by household income and race for African Americans:  $25-$39K up 7.80%, $40-$49K up 7.10%, $50-$74K up 11.40%, $75-$99K up 11.90%, $100-$149K up 25%, $150K+ up 27.80% INFO: Latent demand studies indicate that there are 5.5 million participants in golf with 9.8 million interested non-participants. STATS: Where do minorities play? Junior participants make up 21%, exclusive alternative 12%, exclusive range 6%, golfers 61%. NEWS: Minorities are highly aware of golf and 9.8 million are interested, 3.4 million are committed regular golfers, 2.1 million are trial golfers (alternative, range and juniors) INFO: According to the U.S. Census and the Compound Annual Growth Rate, African American population growth is expected to increase 1.2% between 2002-20020. STATS: With managed participation African American golf participation is assumed to increase from 2.3 million to 3.9 million between 2003-2020.
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ILLINOIS:

EAST ST. LOUIS

The Evolution of Grand Maragity
to Grand Marais Golf Club

By Antoinette Miller

Business partners Bob Bonner and Houston Topps Strike a Golfer’s Dream.
By Antoinette Miller


(L-R) Houston Topps, Director of Golf with Bob Bonner, President, Grand Marais Golf Course.

Despite the blatant appearance of jagged fairways, overgrown areas and under managed greens that many abandoned, businessman Bob Bonner, foresaw prime land that had character, beauty and invaluable potential.


With the insight and ambition of his partners: Houston Topps and Willie Williams, the three put forth a plan to greatly transform the course and enlighten the city of East St. Louis.

Founded in 1936, Grand Marias Golf Club, formerly loathed as “Grand Maragity” for its less than attractive appearance has evolved at the hands of true inspiration and dedication. “I saw an old course that was really run down and felt an obligation to do something,” proclaimed Bonner.

A true golf fan will not be able to rest when he sees an old club that has fallen on hard times. Where some might see weeds and hard work, Bonner saw potential for introducing the local community to the charms and delights of golf. If we're a fan and feverishly follow basketball, golf or poker news it's sometimes hard to imagine that everyone doesn't share out enthusiasm, so Bob Bonner decided to take golf to the people. Those who might never have considered playing golf would surely come to love the sport.



As a local business owner, real estate investor, franchisee of the world renowned McDonald’s and golfer, Bonner is no stranger to investing in something that he truly believes in. Subsequently, at age 53 with a few dollars in his pocket and much needed support, the renovation of the club began.

The club was once a thriving establishment that served many golfers in East St. Louis. But after previous management lost it to bankruptcy, Bonner took the initiative to take it over. “The potential was so great, there is a lot of history on that piece of land but it was let go for so long,” says Bonner.


Through extensive clean up and tremendous upgrading the full service club is now equipped with a pro shop, pool, tennis courts, Soul Food restaurant, has a view of the downtown skyline from the #1 fairway, as well as the amazing discoveries of a pond and two peninsulas.


Moreover, with excellent business savvy and incredible teamwork Bonner, Williams, and Topps have successfully executed Grand Marias’ conversion.


They spend a lot of time talking about the course and business with each other while getting in five or six holes. “I just love those guys that I work with, they don’t just put up with me, they understand me,” stated Topps.


Houston Topps is a longtime golfer and Grand Marias’s general manager. “I am impressed with his standards, when thinking of someone to appoint, I felt he had what it takes to handle the job,” expressed Bonner.

Grand Marias’s possibilities are dramatically endless. The club participates in many tournaments such as: Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity, Cardinals Care Kids Care and St. Louis Cardinals. And more importantly, Bonner is working hard toward making it extra special in a community where 99.97 of the population is African American. He aspires to make the East St. Louis High School students deeply involved in golf and has also put forth efforts to implement a program in the juvenile system.


As a final note, Bonner’s goal is to make the equity owners.

For more information on Grand Marias Golf Club, visit their wesite: www.GrandMariasGolfCourse.com or contact Houston Topps at 618-398-9999 and Bob Bonner at BobBonner@aol.com.


 

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