A first for the NCAA

Celebrating Black Golfers – LaRee Pearl Sugg

LaRee Pearl Sugg, now an associate athletic director for the University of Richmond, created quite a stir for her UCLA Bruin golf team in 1991. Down by six shots on the 17th hole of their NCAA Championship match with San Jose State Univ. at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course, Sugg rallied her teammates, telling everyone that they still had a chance. She was the team’s lone African-American player. Four holes earlier, she was a heartbreaking goat.

On that hole, a par 3, she inadvertently teed her ball some 2 inches in front of the tee. The resultant two-shot penalty hurt, but Sugg fought back with consecutive birdies. Feeling the weight of that mistake, she fought hard to make amends. She got her chance when the Bruins rallied and SJSU teams faltered. Now it would go to sudden death. On the very first hole, Sugg nailed a 25-foot birdie putt to give the Bruins the championship and made her the first African-American female member of an NCAA champion golf team. It was her proudest moment, she told writers.

Before joining the Richmond athletic staff, Sugg became the third African American woman to play on the LPGA Tour, the first since Renee Powell, who ended her career in 1978. Sugg played from 1995 to 1996 and 2000 to 2001 with multiple appearances at the U.S. Women’s Open Championship and the Women’s British Open. She also played for the LPGA Futures Tour and won the 1998 Aurora Health Care Futures Classic.

Sugg, 48, began golfing at the age of six and won over thirty titles as a junior golfer. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles, on a golf scholarship for her post-secondary education. She played all four years at UCLA on the college’s golf team and graduated with an English degree.

Sugg was the only African American woman LPGA golfer when she returned at the 2000 Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open. That year, she reached 8th place at the 2000 Wegmans Rochester International. Sugg ended her LPGA tour career in 2001 when she lost her LPGA tour card for a second time. After leaving the LPGA, Sugg moved on to the University of Richmond to become a golf coach in the early 2000s. She later became an assistant athletic director from 2005 to 2008 before becoming Associate Athletic Director in 2008.

LaRee Sugg