Camaraderie, community outreach shape Strokers GC
Sorry, Billy Squier.
Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” is the obvious choice for the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia theme. Only a slight lyrical change required (For those who don’t know this rock classic, a Google search and you’ll figure it out).
“I guess we haven’t had the opportunity or the need to have a theme song, but I’ll take that as something for the group to think about,” Claude Knight a founder of the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia, said. “Maybe we build it into the website.”
For now, the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia, a group exclusively comprised of African-American men, will continue to build upon its history. Established in 2001, its mission is to facilitate organized fun, networking and friendly competition for the everyday golf enthusiast in the Delaware Valley.
“We created the group to give African-American men an opportunity to play golf in an environment that was less intimidating,” Knight, 49, of Flourtown, Pa., said. “We believe what’s different is we also provide access and a bit of social equity when it comes to being able to play golf, being able to learn golf and being able to give back to the community.”
A GAP Associate Member Club, the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia is an offshoot of the Strokers Golf Club of Atlanta, founded in 1988. The former essentially formed a league without a home, created an event schedule, contacted golf courses to establish a network of host sites and garnered interest from potential members. The Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia includes 50 members today.
“As an avid golfer, you’re sitting at home sometimes and you’re thinking, ‘I wonder if so-and-so is available to play this weekend?’ We have organized rounds on a regular, consistent basis,” Greg Burris, a member of 16 years who serves on the Operating Committee, said. “You don’t have to worry about if your friend is available to get out for golf this weekend. You know that from March through October, there are rounds you can make every other week, not a problem.”
“We created the group to give African-American men an opportunityClaude Knight
to play golf in an environment that was less intimidating.”
Two Saturdays a month, the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia meets for a round at courses throughout the GAP region. Each event features different flights and caters to players of any skill level. The coveted prize at the end of the rainbow: Mr. Stroker.
“It comes with a ton of bragging rights. It comes with the ability to say you were the best golfer for the year,” Knight said. “Part of what we’ve done over the years is prided ourselves in competition. Mr. Stroker gives the average golfer an opportunity to have competitive conditions, to earn points and work up the leaderboard.”
“That’s something to really shoot for. We know we’ve got enough guys who have that drive [to win Mr. Stroker] in them,” Burris, 56, of Cheltenham, Pa., added.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia, like most, to pivot in 2020. Its tournament schedule shifted into a yearlong match play championship. Members met when available for a match and reported the results accordingly.
Those interested in becoming a member of the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia can apply online at www.phillystrokers.com. “Likeminded individuals who will grow the group, contribute to the group and represent the group well” required.
Representation is key, too. Outreach is integral to the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia.
“The other thing we try to do, beyond just play golf, is to represent a certain brand in the community,” Knight said. “We’ve gone to elementary schools and done a golf clinic. We’ve tried to participate in other events supporting other social groups, such as Jack & Jill of Montgomery County. It’s important to us.”
The Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia harmonizes on and off the golf course. No theme song needed.
Sorry, Steve Miller Band.
“No matter if you’re the vice president of your company, all the way down to the maintenance man for a large company … if you have an interest in golf, we all just love to get together and have that camaraderie,” Burris, a five-time Mr. Stroker, said.
“Most of our members don’t have home clubs, so they see this as an opportunity to have a home club and to have the experience that others who belong to other country clubs have,” Knight added. “So, we mirror that experience in terms of the fellowship, camaraderie, identity and a place to belong. For that reason, we get a lot of enthusiasm and energy across the Delaware Valley of folks who want to be a part of the Strokers Golf Club of Philadelphia. That enthusiasm and energy are what’s kept it going.”
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 300 Member Clubs and 80,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.