Harold Varner III credits his family for his ascension as a pro golfer. Harold III’s parents, Harold Varner Jr. and Patricia Carter, have been by his side since the start. It was his dad, Harold Jr., who introduced him to the sport and dropped him off at the golf course on his way to work as a car salesman.
While Harold III is proud to be an African-American, he wants to be known for more than just his race. In an article he penned for The Players’ Tribune, Harold III admitted to growing tired of being asked about his race.
Let’s get something out of the way: I’m black.
Damn, glad I got that off my chest.
I mean, you would think I didn’t know it by the amount of times I’m asked about my race. It’s actually kind of comical at this point in my career … I know exactly when the questions are coming and what’ll be asked.
“What’s it like being the only black guy on Tour?”
“Does it feel lonely as the only African-American out there?”
Learn more about Harold III’s mom and dad.
1. Harold Kept His Word & Mowed His Parents Grass After a 5th Place Finish at the 2018 Greenbrier Classic
Just a day after having his best PGA Tour finish at the 2018 Greenbrier Classic, Harold III found himself on a mower at his parents’ house. Harold III is a man of his word and said he would mow their lawn on Monday.
“I hate to harp on it, but it’s all about perspective,” Harold III told Golf Digest. “If I shoot 90 tomorrow, I’m gonna able to go home, and my mom is going to give me a kiss and be like, ‘you’re still a winner.’ And I’m gonna be mad, but that’s just how it is. And if I win, she’s gonna humble me and be like, ‘you’re not better than me.’ And I thoroughly enjoy that…I’m gonna mow my parents’ grass on Monday . . . so that’s just what I’m gonna do.”
It looks like Harold III’s words even earned him a new mower from John Deere.
2. Harold Is the Only African-American to Play on the PGA Tour Since Tiger Woods
According to The Undefeated, Harold III is the only African-American to play on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods turned pro. While he understands the conversation can quickly turn to race, Harold III is hoping to broaden fans perspective.
“I get asked about color all the time, but I want to help and reach out to not just black fans but all fans,” Varner noted to The Undefeated. “I do understand that I’m in an awesome position to help black kids, but I want to help all kids. I want to be able to relate and to help all people in society that we live in, especially at a time where this is so much dividing us.”
Harold III grew up in Gastonia, located just outside Charlotte, North Carolina and started playing golf with a group called the Par Busters. He was a kid in a group full of African-American adults.
“Honestly, I just felt like I was one of the guys — without the drinking and stuff that goes on at the golf course,” Harold III explained to The Undefeated. “Those guys looked after me. They fed me on the course, and they often made sure I got home. The biggest lesson I got from them: to just have fun. That’s the reason why they played golf, to get out with their friends, talk some smack and have fun.”
3. Harold’s Dad, Harold Jr., Used to Drop Him off at the Golf Course Where He Purchased a $100 Pass for the Summer
Harold III credits his childhood summers for improving his game. Harold III’s father used to drop him off at a Gastonia golf course where he had a $100 pass for the summer. Harold III enjoyed basketball, but his father introduced him to golf thanks to the summer pass, per Golf.com.
Harold grew up in Gastonia, outside Charlotte. Gastonia got its name from William Gaston, a distinguished 19th-century North Carolina judge with progressive (for the time) views about race. Harold got his name from his father, a car salesman, who introduced his basketball-loving son to the goff at Gastonia’s municipal course, where kids could play all summer long for $100.
4. Harold Was Born at the Same Hospital as LeBron James in Akron, Ohio
Harold III may be a North Carolina native, but the golfer was born in Akron, Ohio. According to the PGA Tour, Harold III was born at the same Akron hospital as LeBron James.
He lived in Akron until he was six years old and most of his extended family lives in Akron as the PGA Tour detailed ahead of the 2017 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
“I really don’t know what it will be like,” Varner said when asked about playing in his hometown. “… All (but one of) my aunts and uncles on my mom and dad’s side live in Akron, so it’s great.”
In fact, one of those aunts, Janet Varner, spent nearly two decades working at Firestone as a cook. Varner’s father, also an avid golfer, got to play there a couple of times before they moved but his son was too young.
5. Harold’s Father Is an Avid Golfer
Harold Jr. is credited with introducing his son to golf, but the elder Varner is also an avid golfer himself. He bought his son his first set of Fisher-Price clubs when he was two years old.
“He just dropped me off on the way to work,” Harold III noted to the PGA Tour. “I loved it. There was a lot more opportunity, obviously, down in North Carolina, especially when it comes to golf. You play year around.”
As for his dad, he shoots between 75 to 85, per the PGA Tour. Decades after introducing his son to golf, the duo now share the same love for the sport.