“It came down to a question of selling golf bags or impacting the lives of young people,” said Barrow, who became chief executive in 2008.
That sense of responsibility came from his father and his mother, Marva, Louis’s first wife.
“I observed the two of them giving back, and that really impacted me,” said Barrow, 70, who was 33 when his father died, in April 1981, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on special orders from President Ronald Reagan.
Barrow learned early the influence one person can have. He was 4 when his father, a year into his retirement from boxing, challenged the P.G.A. of America’s Caucasian-only policy by accepting an invitation to play in the 1952 San Diego Open as an exempt amateur. He missed the 36-hole cut, but the precedent of a black man playing in a P.G.A.-sponsored event had been established, even though the P.G.A. did not change its policy until 1961.
Louis took up the game in his early 20s. Barrow first played with his father when he was 5 or 6. They played at Pipe O’ Peace, a course 30 miles south of Chicago that was favored by Louis and other notable black golfers. It was renamed Joe Louis “The Champ” golf course…