The PGA TOUR has announced that Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Bridgestone Collegiate Development Program, a crucial element of the PGA TOUR's Pathway to Progression. This initiative is designed to promote greater diversity in golf by focusing on developing talent from diverse and historically underrepresented groups.
The Bridgestone Collegiate Development Program will specifically work on enhancing competitive and mentorship opportunities for golfers from Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). Additionally, it will provide career development opportunities for both players and coaches. The program includes several initiatives such as the Bridgestone APGA Collegiate Ranking, the HBCU Coaches Summit presented by Bridgestone, the Bridgestone Player Development Camp, and two new collegiate golf tournaments: the Bridgestone HBCU Invitational and the Bridgestone Collegiate Invitational. Participants in these events will receive custom ball fittings and essential equipment from Bridgestone Golf.
The Bridgestone APGA Collegiate Ranking, in its third year, offers competitive opportunities and support for highly talented collegiate golfers from underrepresented communities. The top five Black collegiate players in the ranking receive various opportunities through the program, including a full year of membership on the APGA Tour and automatic entry into PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry.
Bridgestone's support extends to the Bridgestone HBCU Invitational, which will take place on November 1-2 at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia. This 54-hole event includes 10 HBCU men's golf teams and five HBCU women's golf teams, with the winning teams earning a two-day development camp at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Furthermore, Bridgestone will participate in the HBCU Coaches Summit presented by Bridgestone, providing mentorship and insights to coaches in collaboration with the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and the Black College Golf Coaches Association (BCGCA).
Another element of the program is the Bridgestone Collegiate Invitational, a 54-hole tournament featuring top NCAA Division 1 men's golf programs, HBCU schools, and high-ranking individual golfers from underrepresented communities in golf. The winner of this event will receive an exemption into a 2024 Korn Ferry Tour event, with details to be announced later.
The Pathway to Progression initiative by the PGA TOUR, which began in March 2023, aims to support the identification and development of junior and collegiate golfers from historically underrepresented communities. The Collegiate Ranking, in partnership with the APGA Tour, offers transitional support for the top five Black senior collegiate golfers as they embark on their professional golf careers. Bridgestone's sponsorship reinforces the commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusivity in golf.