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Charles Owens, pioneering African American golfer, dies at 85

Charles Owens, inventor of the long putter, poses with one of the clubs that he designed and used on tour on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at Rogers Park Golf Course in Tampa, Fla. (Photo by Craig Litten)                              NYTCREDIT: Craig Litten for The New York Times

Charles Owens, inventor of the long putter, poses with one of the clubs that he designed and used on tour on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at Rogers Park Golf Course in Tampa, Fla. (Photo by Craig Litten) NYTCREDIT: Craig Litten for The New York Times

Charles L. Owens, a trailblazing African-American golfer and the first person to use the yip-reducing long “belly” putter in competition, died September 7, 2017, in his hometown of Winter Haven, Florida. He was 85.

“We are extremely proud of our father’s life-long dedication to the sport of golf,” Owens’ family said after his death. “His contributions to the sport helped open it to everyone regardless of age, race or disability.”

Born in 1932, Owens grew up in the Jim Crow South, the son of Fred Owens, a groundskeeper at the Winter Haven Golf Course. He took up golf as a child by hitting bottle caps in the street with broken pine branches. That’s when he develops his unique cross-handed grip – an attempt to imitate golfers he saw on the course — that he would use the rest of his life.

During paratrooper training at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1956, Owens shattered his left knee when his parachute failed to deploy properly. The resulting injury left him with a fused knee and a distinctive limp. It was the first of several leg injuries that would cause his career to ebb and flow over the years. After working as an assistant golf pro at the South Shore Golf Club on Staten Island, N.Y., Owens joined the United Golf Association in 1967. He earned his PGA Tour card in 1969 along with a sponsorship by Wilson Sporting Goods.

In 1971, he won the Kemper Asheville Open before being sidelined by another leg injury. In 1977, he became the head pro at Tampa’s Rogers Park Golf Course and oversaw a major overhaul of the publicly owned course. Built in 1952, it was for decades the only place in Tampa where African American golfers could play. The course was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Owens returned to the pro tour in 1986 and won the Seniors Tour twice that year. It was during one of those matches that he broke out his 52-inch-tall Slim Jim — his own version of the “belly” putter invented decades before but never used in competition. His version reached to his sternum, letting him putt despite a stiff back.

In 1987, he was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and received the Golf Writers Association’s Ben Hogan Award, given to a golfer who succeeds despite a physical handicap.

More recently, he was inducted into the African American Golfers Hall of Fame in 2007; published his autobiography, “I Hate to Lose,” in 2008; and was featured in “Uneven Fairways,” a 2009 Golf Channel documentary about the contributions made by African American golfers.

Owens was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease within the past year, after which his health quickly deteriorated.

His funeral was on Saturday, September 16, in Winter Haven.

What It Do With the LUE: One Meal at a Time

By Lue Dowdy

One MEAL at a time is WHAT IT DO!

Mobilize with us!  LUE Productions and PitStop BBQ have teamed up along with a few other community entities. Our purpose is to serve 400 or more hot meals to the homeless located in Downtown San Bernardino. We go out into the homeless camps, underneath the freeway ramps, behind the abandoned buildings, and into the fields with HOT MEALS.

Every year the number of homelessness increases in San Bernardino. We’re asking for your HELP! We’re in need of food donations and volunteers. Please consider being a part of our efforts. We’ll be sending out hot meals, Tuesday, November 21 from noon until 4 p.m. at the library located at 555 W. 6th Street in San Bernardino. We thank you in advance! To donate or volunteer contact us via email at Lue.info@yahoo.com or text (909) 567-1000 or (909) 556.7637.

Here is a list of what is needed: Delivery Drivers (8) Packers (10) Servers (10) Turkeys (20) large Cans of Corn (20) large cans of green beans (20) rolls (500) bottles waters (500) dressing/stuffing mix (20) cranberry sauce (20) boxes of mash potatoes (20).

Until next week, L’z!

Newbie Actor, Gonzalo Martin, Lands First Big Movie Role with Hollywood Icons in Upcoming Thriller ‘When It Rings’

By Naomi K. Bonman

It takes some actors years to get their big break and then it takes others just a short amount of time. Rising Actor, Gonzalo Martin, landed a lead role in the upcoming Indie Film, “When It Rings.” The film features Golden Globe Winner and Best Actress Oscar Nominee Sally Kirkland and is produced by Tyrone Tann of Stauros Entertainment in collaboration with Corona based media company, Trick Shot Media Group.

“It was truly amazing when I found out that was going to be working with someone of such high caliber [Sally Kirkland],” Gonzalo states on his experience working on his first feature film with award winning talent. “I couldn’t believe it. My first feature film and I get this amazing opportunity to be acting side by side with an acting legend. She has done it all and she is amazing.”

Kirkland coached Martin for his lead role in the film. Martin attended New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. He was recently in the BuzzFeed web series “Snapped” and he also starred in an Apple commercial as well as a national commercial for Kellogg’s promoting, “L’eggo my Eggo.” Martin is definitely on his way to stardom.  

In addition to working with Kirkland, Martin also enjoyed working with Tann and is very appreciative of the opportunity that he has given not only himself, but other rising actors as well.

“The thing that I loved most about producing this film was giving new talent, such as Gonzalo Martin, an opportunity to star in their first feature film, as well as to give the directors and producers a chance to spread their wings as filmmakers and directors,” Tann explains. “It was also an honor and privilege to work with [the amazing and talented actress] Sally Kirkland.”

Tann gained notoriety in 1998 by breaking the Guinness World Records for producing the longest single take in a film called, “Bug Night.”

“When It Rings” is a psychological thriller and drama that focuses on a young man, Zach Garland (Gonzalo Martin) who is still haunted by his sister’s death. Ten years after a tragic accident  Zach returns to his childhood home to help his family sell the house. At the home, he finds a toy phone he would use to communicate with his dead sister when he was younger. Years of counseling convinced him it was all in his head until an unexpected call comes through the toy phone, setting off a series of terrifying events, making him question what, and who, is real.

The film is slated to release in early 2018. Check out the behind the scenes trailer below: