William Lewis, PGA
A native of Huntsville, Alabama, William Lewis was the oldest of seven children. His father died when Lewis was 10-years-old, and at 11, he started caddying at Huntsville Country Club to help support his mother and family. Lewis attended Lee High School (1966-69) and was the first black member of the golf team. His junior year the team advanced to the state tournament and finished sixth, and his senior year Lewis helped his team win the region and finish sixth in state.
Lewis stayed in Huntsville and enrolled at Alabama A&M University in 1970, ultimately earning a four-year scholarship. He quickly found success in collegiate golf as Lewis was voted Most Outstanding Athlete his freshman year. He led is team to victory at the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Tournament his freshman and junior years, while the team finished runner-up his sophomore and senior years. Lewis won over 28 tournaments during his collegiate career, earning him Small College All-America honors each year (1970-74). With the success Lewis found in college, he kept his caddying side job to support his family.
His first job after college moved him to Georgia as the assistant golf professional at John A. White Golf Course in Atlanta. During his early working years, Lewis supplemented his income by playing on the mini tour circuit. In the late 1970s, Lewis made the decision to devote time and energy to refining his skills, and a year later, he began playing regularly on the North American Golf Association Tour. After a few years of making a name for himself alongside professionals Jim Dent, Lee Elder and others, Lewis entered PGA TOUR Qualifying School. He won the Atlanta Open in 1978 and the Greensboro Open in 1979 and 1981, before making the finals at Qualifying School in 1981. His first PGA TOUR event was the 1981 Southern Open in Columbus, Ga., and competed in the 1995 BellSouth Classic.
Once his playing days slowed down, Lewis made an impact on the Atlanta city courses community as the head golf professional at Alfred Tup Holmes Golf Course for 15 years and the head golf professional and general manager at Brown’s Mill Golf Course. While moving to River’s Edge Golf Course in Fayetteville, Lewis obtained his Class A status with the Georgia PGA of America.
He joined the First Tee of Metro Atlanta when it was founded in 1999 as the head golf instructor and youth coach, where he stayed involved with the chapter for 18 years before retiring in 2017. As head instructor, Lewis touched the lives of many junior golfers in the Southwest Atlanta and surrounding communities; helping young boys and girls qualify for high school teams and earning college scholarships.
Lewis would also serve as head golf coach at Morehouse College for 16 years. In 2010, his team at Morehouse College became the first all African-American member team to win the National Minority Golf Championship.
Lewis received recognition for his efforts and service to the game over the years. In 2000, he was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame and the Huntsville – Madison County (Alabama) Athletic Hall of Fame. On February 19, 2016, the Atlanta City Council proclaimed ‘Coach William Lewis Day’ in the city of Atlanta, highlighting his significant contributions to youth and the game of golf. Lewis passed away in February of 2022.