There is a Black-owned golf course in Florida and it’s owned by Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate Stanley Campbell.
Already known for being a trailblazer, Campbell, 66, added becoming a member of the very small group of Black Americans who own a golf course to his resume in 2021.
Here are seven things to know about Stanley Campbell and his golf course.
1. Stanley Campbell has been doing amazing things most of his adult life
According to Treasure Coast newspaper TC Palm, Campbell has been “that dude” since he “wrote the data reduction and aero-analysis for the Voyager 2 spacecraft.” Campbell spent eight-and-a-half years in the Navy as a pilot and worked at NASA for a stint.
An avid innovator, he filed eight patent submissions in intelligence, security and health care areas. Specializing in big data management and predictive analytics through his company, Eagle Force Associates, Campbell’s intelligence technology helped solve the case of the BTK killer, a serial killer for 17 years in Wichita and Park City, Kansas, who sent taunting letters to police and newspapers describing the details of his crimes.
2. He purchased Martin Downs Golf Club in Martin County after hearing the day before that it was going up for auction
Campbell said he he learned that the Martin Downs Golf Club would be up for auction 12 hours before the sale.
“I had all of about 12 hours to make a decision,” Campbell told the TC Palm. “I had to decide if I was going to buy it and how much I would bid for it – all sight unseen. I got a call late that night and my wife is like, ‘What are you doing?’”
Campbell took a leap of faith and purchased the golf course for $1.35 million on April 15, 2021.
“The history of Martin Downs kept resonating in my mind,” Campbell said. “Martin Downs was the stoic bedrock that Florida represents. If real estate developers get this, it’s done. The history will be gone.”
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3. Campbell rarely played golf during his life but is taking it up in retirement.
Though he rarely played golf, Campbell said he thought the venture would be worth taking on as he neared retirement.
“I always wanted to play golf, but I never had the time like most of my flying buddies,” Campbell said. “I wanted to get to this passion I never had a chance to scratch.”
4. His wife, Cheryl Campbell, who works for the Biden administration, thought he was crazy for purchasing a golf course
Though they are normally in sync, Campbell said his wife Cheryl wasn’t immediately on board with him taking the money they’d allocated to build a home in Jensen Beach to buy an old golf course.
Cheryl Campbell, the U.S. assistant health and human services secretary, has charted her own impressive career path, but she didn’t understand her husband’s latest endeavor
“She was shaking her head. She married a Navy pilot, so she has been on adventures, some right side up, some right side down,” Campbell laughed. “This was not the adventure she had chosen.”
5. He’s the older brother of Miami rap icon Luther ‘Uncle Luke’ Campbell
Though the two charted different career paths, success is something that runs in the Campbell family. Stanley is the older brother of iconic Miami MC, activist and entrepreneur Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell.
They are two of five boys born and raised in Liberty City who overcame the odds to achieve immense success. Their older brother earned a Ph.D. and speaks four languages.
“Our Spanish teacher in high school once said she couldn’t believe we all came from the same womb,” Campbell said.
Luke proudly bragged on social media on his brother’s golf course. “Let me give you a Sneak peek of my brothers golf course. He purchased the Martin Downs Golf Club and Resort. In Martin County. Seven months ago this place did not look like this,” Luke tweeted, tagging Golf Digest and the Golf Channel.
6. It’s not easy running a golf course. Campbell believes his business acumen will help him be successful
Many golf courses are struggling. The industry has been in decline for more than 10 years, even before the covid-19 pandemic, according to Unusual Investments. However, Campbell is not worried about failing.
“As a pilot, I was trained as a tactical operator,” Campbell said. “What was our strategy? It’s the same way running a golf course. You have to have a plan, and you have to stick with it.”
7. Campbell joins a small, elite group of Black golf course owners, including NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Golf professionals are lauding Campbell for jumping into the industry headfirst, despite little experience in the field.
“This is a great thing because diversity has been such a weakness in the golf world,” said Chuck Knebels, a longtime PGA Professional and director of the Treasure Coast Golf Association, in TC Palm.
Knebels has been advising Campbell on his Black-owned golf course, saying it will help the PGA with several initiatives. “Stanley kind of did this on a whim, but his involvement gives initiatives in our area a home base,” Knebels continued.
There were 13 Black-owned gold courses in the U.S. in 2016 out of 15,500, according to The Undefeated. Campbell said he didn’t only buy the golf course because he is Black, but he welcomes the opportunity to increase the number of Black owners in the industry.
“Helping golf become more inclusive gives us a little bit of pride and confidence,” Campbell said. “We want to create an environment where great golf history can be expanded throughout Martin County and the Treasure Coast.”
PHOTO: Stanley Campbell and Martin Downs Golf Club, Palm City, Florida. (Photo Courtesy of: martindownsgolfclub.com)