In 2011, at age 17, golfer Ginger Howard, now 18, made history by becoming the youngest African-American woman golfer to turn professional, setting her sights on competing in the LPGA. Although talking to Ginger and her younger sister Robbi, 17, is much like talking to your typical, sweet, 17-and-18 year-old girls, the two young women are anything but ordinary. The Howard sisters are positioning themselves to dominate the golf world in the coming years, making a name for themselves as the Venus and Serena of the sport.
The Howard sisters have long lists of accomplishments that they began achieving shortly after they started playing at the tender ages of 4 and 6. Yet behind these two powerhouses, it is the support and sacrifice of their parents, Robert and Gianna, that has paved the way for Ginger and Robbi to reach their levels of success. The couple, married for 25 years on September 10th of this year, has raised the two burgeoning stars, along with their sons, Robert jr. (ArJay), 10, and Giulian, 4. In my interview with the Howards, they talked about the sacrifices the family has made in pursuit of Ginger and Robbi’s dreams, the often unspoken truth about what it takes to compete in the sport, and what keeps them going through it all.
On The Beginning
Robert, who once attended college on a tennis scholarship, introduced his daughters at ages 4 and 6 to golf when Gianna suggested that he take the girls with him to play one Saturday.
Robert: My Saturdays were typically me playing tennis and golf, but this particular time she told me ‘if you go out of here, you’re going to have to take these kids with you’ and I did…That was the start of something very special.
The girls soon started gaining the attention of experienced golfers, who remarked on their natural talents. After blowing past the competition at the U.S. Kids World Championship Qualifier in 2003, what began as a hobby for the girls started to transform into a career ambition.
Ginger: I started having those goals and dreams after my sister and I started winning consistently. I developed a passion and thought it would be really fun to do it on a bigger stage.