Everything everywhere all at once
Greg Odom Jr.’s unique preparation for his PGA TOUR debut
May 02, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- Greg Odom Jr. will play on a sponsor’s exemption at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. (Howard University)
Editor's note (May 4, 2022): Gregory Odom Jr. won his second consecutive PGA Works Collegiate Championship on Wednesday in Philadelphia, leading Howard University to the team title, as well. Odom will make his PGA TOUR debut Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship in Potomac, Maryland. This story, written earlier this week, details Odom's journey to his first TOUR start.
Maybe the accelerated life of Greg Odom Jr., makes sense.
After all, efforts to diversify golf are coming fast and furious, so why should his life be any different? Why shouldn’t it recall Lucy and Ethel on the assembly line?
“My dreams are coming true,” said Odom, a decorated junior at Howard University.
Odom will play on a sponsor’s exemption at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, less than 15 miles from where he goes to school. He’s thrilled. Grateful. Eager to get going.
It’s just that in addition to anticipating his PGA TOUR debut on Thursday, Odom is also defending his title at the minority-focused PGA Works Collegiate Championship in Philadelphia this week. That tournament runs Monday through Wednesday, at which point – deep breath – he will make his way back to the D.C. area, 142 miles southwest, for the Wells Fargo.
It’s a fast turnaround, but Odom is used to it.
The day after his Wells Fargo exemption hit the papers, he won the individual title in freezing cold at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at Argyle C.C. in Silver Spring, Maryland, leading Howard to the team victory. The program at the historically black college and university is in its second year thanks to the support of NBA star Stephen Curry, who the following day made news of his own.Greg Odom Jr. won the individual title at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, leading Howard to the team victory. (Howard University)
Curry announced he is launching the Underrated Tour in concert with the AJGA, a new junior golf circuit that will provide travel, meals, and hotels free of charge at tournaments nationwide.
Said Curry, in a video on social media, “Less than two percent of golfers are people of color.”
Added Odom, “Most people say they don’t see color on the golf course. A lot of my golf friends are Black, but tournaments are different. At the elite level, you’re like the only person there.”
True, and although golf is transforming rapidly, much work remains to be done. Perhaps no two people are moving faster to do it than Curry and Odom.
“We spent some time with Steph when we were playing up at Stanford,” said Howard men’s golf coach Sam Puryear. “He keeps up with the kids. I told him about the exemption (into the Wells Fargo, which would usually be held at Quail Hollow in Charlotte). He was super-excited.”
So is Odom’s family, for he’s come a long way since his days with the First Tee of Memphis. Said his mother, Shirley, “I’m elated. It’s everything he’s been working for, coming to life.”
Along with his mom, Odom is expected to have a cheering section at TPC Potomac that also includes his godmother, Rowena Brown; aunt, Beverly Bond; Puryear; and Howard teammates.
The one who won’t be there is Greg Odom Sr., who got Odom started when he was 4 and died of kidney failure the week of the PGA Works at TPC Sawgrass last year. Don’t go out there unless you’re ready to win, he used to say. Told that his father had died, Odom Jr., talked it over with his mom and his coach, vowed to win it for Pops, and did so with a 4-over 220 total.Greg Odom Jr. won the PGA Works at TPC Sawgrass with a 4-over 220 total. (Howard University)
All involved were in tears.
“I knew my dad wanted me to go out there and ball out,” Odom Jr., said that day.
He calls the game his sanctuary, but his coach says it hasn’t been easy.
“That was rough,” Puryear said. “He and his mom are doing what they have to do.”
Opportunities have rolled in – Odom made two Korn Ferry Tour starts, missing the cut in both – as mother and son tried to find their equilibrium and friends and family rallied around them.
“I’m still kind of messed up myself,” Shirley said. “It’s a year ago, but almost like yesterday.”
Her son’s trophies are spilling out into her office, and she laughs about that – a good problem to have. He still goes back to Memphis, where he learned with his father at Irene Golf & Country Club. The course attracts a diverse crowd, including, occasionally, the former NBA star and current University of Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway.
Meanwhile, in D.C., the weather is turning warmer, far better than the sleet that fell at the MEAC Championship. Every so often Odom hears the voice of his father telling him to take it easy.
“When I’m out on the range and hitting balls as fast as I can, I hear him say, ‘Stop rapid firing the ball,’” Odom said. “That helps me slow down, chill, and be patient.
“I feel like everything shouldn’t be so slow.”
Rest assured, he won’t be moving slow this week.