Personality: George P. Braxton
Spotlight on national president of National Negro Golf Association
6/28/2019, 6 a.m.
“8-0-FORE!” If you’re familiar with this play on Richmond’s area code, you’ll know it as the nickname of the Richmond chapter of the National Negro Golf Association. The Richmond Chapter is the host of NNGA’s 2019 Summer Tournament. The tourney is set to run from July 24 through 28 at the Club at Viniterra in New Kent County, with an evening party at Champions Brewery on July 26 open to the public. Those who attend will likely get the chance to meet the group’s most prominent and important member, National President George Philip Braxton. Mr. Braxton, who has previously served in the males-only organization as national secretary and national vice president, describes the game of golf as “a lifelong pursuit.” “There are few things more satisfying than a well struck long iron or draining a long putt for birdie,” Mr. Braxton says. “It is the pursuit of one hole, one nine holes, one round, one season where we put it all together,” he adds. NNGA was founded in 1965 by a group of black students in professional schoools to serve as less of a sports-focused club and more of a way to maintain connections across states. The organization has since expanded past its six original chapters in Richmond, New York, Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta and Philadelphia to independent chapters in more than 11 other states, including California and Texas, with nearly 200 members across the United States. The Richmond Chapter was founded in 1987 by several individuals, including former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas “Doug” Wilder. Despite a commitment to the club and its ideals so deep that he has a tattoo of the group’s logo on his leg, Mr. Braxton’s first real experience with golf was in 1993 as part of a friend’s wedding celebration. Despite never swinging a golf club before that day, Mr. Braxton quickly took to the sport. “After finally hitting one ‘on the screws,’ something went off in me like a tuning fork and I told my friend that I would play this game for the rest of my life,” Mr. Braxton says. This single moment would grow into an obsession with improving at the game. Laser-focused on sharpening his skills and making a name for himself, Mr. Braxton had inadvertently turned golfing into an experience where success dictated his enjoyment. Eventually, the necessities of family life, work and his own health would lead Mr. Braxton to shift his approach to golf. He now treats it as a vehicle for keeping close with his friends, rather than defeating them on the green. “It’s good exercise, a great reason to travel and ,if you can’t beat them in golf, there’s always the card table,” Mr. Braxton says. This take on the game has greatly informed his two terms as NNGA president. After serving for years under Winfred Kirksey and Charlie Ward as vice president, Mr. Braxton was elected in 2015 and again in 2017. His goal: To reshape the association into something that clearly shows the benefits of membership while not losing the sense of fellowship and intimacy for which NNGA was created. “We didn’t need to be a large organization, but we needed to be a viable one,” Mr. Braxton says. Any men 21 years of age or older who are interested in a potential membership can join the Richmond Chapter for their Saturday outings to get a feel for the organization. “If you are committed to traveling, like a good laugh and love golf, we may be the group for you,” Mr. Braxton says. In his professional life Mr. Braxton serves as deputy director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Office for the Defense Contract Management Agency. Meet this week’s Personality and a real golf guy, George P. Braxton: