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Mulbe Dillard has always had a dream of playing professional golf. Now, fulfilling that dream will be a little easier – and not just for Dillard.
On the heels of the debut of PGA Tour University, the PGA Tour and the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour have teamed up to help top Black college golfers transition to the professional ranks by easing the financial burden of playing developmental tours and Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
On Monday, the organizations announced a college ranking for Black golfers in NCAA Division I, II and III with the top five seniors each year receiving summer status on the APGA Tour and an exemption into the pre-qualifying stage for Korn Ferry Tour Q-School.
Dillard, a senior at Florida A&M, debuts at No. 1 in the ranking, just ahead of Michigan State’s Andrew Walker and three of Dillard’s teammates – Mahindra Lutchman, Ethan Mangum and Cameron Riley.
“It’s very big,” Dillard said of the new initiative, which will also cover entry and travel costs on the APGA Tour. “It’s big for many reasons, including the noticeability in terms of people being able to know our journeys and follow us.”
Dillard’s golf journey began when he was 2 years old, when his father, Mulbe III, brought him to a local driving range in Chicago. By age 5, Dillard was playing tournaments. By high school, not only was he committing to play for Florida A&M, but he was also opening his own golf academy.
The Mulbe Dillard Golf Academy started with Dillard giving affordable lessons to family friends and his mother’s co-workers. By the summer before his freshman year of college, Dillard was giving six to seven lessons a day at Jackson Park Golf Course in Chicago – on top of his normal practice schedule.
“It got pretty busy, pretty fast,” he said.
Since college, the volume of lessons has died down. Dillard, a business major who is set to graduate this spring, spent the first two summers after entering college interning at a private equity firm. However, he still found time for some virtual lessons, or when he returned home for the winter, lessons in a dome.
This past summer, Dillard spent most of his time in Tallahassee, Florida, where FAMU is located, but when he made a two-week trip back to Illinois in August to play in the APGA Tour’s event at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Dillard estimates he gave nearly 25 lessons.
“I just have a very, very strong love for the game,” Dillard said.
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While Dillard has helped many golfers improve their games, Dillard’s own game has taken off in the past year. This past season, he won twice before the Rattlers’ spring was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Dillard then earned a