African American Golfer’s Digest: “Golfer Of The Week”

African American Golfer's Digest Profiles UBGA's Vice President, Jacques Leandre as Golfer of the Week September 19, 2015   Jacques Leandre, On Course in Serving Up Justice At 6’1”and a lean 190 pounds, Jacques Leandre could compete in just about any sport he chooses.  But the Au-Cap, Haitian born lawyer fancies an attraction to golf. The Queens, New York resident credits his older brother for introducing him to the game.  It all began when his brother would take him along to a summer job that he worked at high school for a local golf course.  The pair would spend time together swinging, hitting balls, and playing around. Today, Leandre carries a 23 handicap and relishes every moment that he can get out on the green.  As a member and Co-Founder of the United Black Golfers Association, Inc. (UBGA). Leandre attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned a B.A. in finance before completing law school at the City University of New York Law School at Queens College.   As Principal of his firm, Law Offices of Jacques M. Leandre, PLLC, located on Broadway in Manhattan and specializing in civil rights and community empowerment law, he is known as “The Community Attorney”.   When he’s not in the office you can find him spending quality time with his wife of 17 years, Chrissy, and their two children, Asia and Jacques III.  Golf is important to him but not more than family. Evening meal time brings about a daily opportunity to bond and to catch-up on what’s been happening for the Leandre clan, especially when his favorite dishes of red snapper and navy bean soup are being served. To keep a decent handicap you have to practice.   Although work takes it’s toll, Leandre tries to play at least four times a month, and, usually with his best golf buddy Vernel Bennett, UBGA President/Founder.  Their favorite spot?  The Douglaston Golf Course in Queens. In his specialized career, Leandre is always seeking “justice” and out on the course is no different, where—in this sport, each player is the judge and jury of their own game. “It is extremely relaxing and always challenging,” say the well postured and clean-shaven Leandre about his enjoyment of golf.  But he is also a fierce competitor and plays in several tournaments annually.   For this, he credits the invaluable lessons of having a professional golf instructor who can help you with,  “…playing a consistent game in various weather conditions.” Leandre especially enjoys playing with the “old-timers” and listening to the “war stories”.  A most admired golfer for Leandre?  Well, that woud be none other than the late Calvin Peete. “The man was self-taught….Amazing,” says Leandre.  “May he rest in peace.” Other than being involved in golf, Leandre participates with coaching little league football for the Rosedale Jets Football Association and conducting legal workshops for at-risk youth.


by Vincent Ferguson "Vernel Bennett, President of the United Black Golfers Association, shares how he went from being a retired NYC Department of Finance Corporate (Supervisor) Tax Auditor and Investment Broker to becoming the President and co-founder of the United Black Golfers Association.   Hear how he made the transition and why golf is now his focus during a podcast interview with Vincent Ferguson, a certified personal trainer, speaker and author." Listen to the interview.


African American Golfer’s Digest and the United Black Golfers Association Partner to Bring Vital News & Information to UBGA Members. August 28, 2014—NEW YORK (NY) — The United Black Golfers Association, Inc. (UBGA) a 501(c)3 social organization based in Laurelton (Queens), New York and the African American Golfer’s Digest, the nation’s leading publication and online portal for Black American golfers have aligned their resources in a partnership that will provide news and information for UBGA member all year long.   The UBGA officially incorporated in March 2014 and launched for the purpose of forming an association to provide opportunities for golfers and individuals (men and women) who are interested in the game of golf to meet and engage in activities that promote unity, personal growth and enrichment through the sport of golf.   “I am excited about this unified front with the United Black Golfers Association and our national publication,” said Debert Cook, publisher of the 11-year old print magazine that is a PGA of America Diverse Supplier and serving 80,000 readers with each issue.  “Together we can spread the good news and growth of people of color across the nation and across the world.”   Lead by President Vernel Bennett, a native New Yorker, the UBGA has rapidly attracted the attention of local, and international golfers, of African descent who have expressed an interested becoming active participants.  Bennett attended NYC Community College and The Bernard M. Baruch College earning an AAS in Accounting and a BBA in Management, respectively.  He is a licensed Certified Financial Planner (Adelphi University) with over 20 years of private practice and a licensed Investment Broker. “UBGA will be used as a conduit through which members will have an opportunity to show their good will and support through fundraising endeavors. Proceeds raised will be used to benefit students in their pursuit of higher education and support other not-for-profit organizations, charities and groups engaged in activities geared towards the betterment of the health and welfare of our community as determined by UBGA, ” says Bennett.   From 1975 until his retirement in 2011, Bennett worked in the government sector, ending his career as a Supervising Sales Tax Auditor for the NYC Department of Finance. He is married and lives with his wife Delores in Laurelton, NY.  He has two sons and two grandchildren. Bennett has golfed for the past seven years with an average score of 92-96   UBGA Officers include Jacques Léandre (Vice President), Handel J. Edwards (Treasurer), Julet Barton (Secretary), Corbett Garrett (Sergeant-At-Arms). For additional information visit:   Like them on FACEBOOK and Twitter. For additional information on the African American Golfer’s Digest visit  


Golf group seeks players, beginners BY MICHAEL GANNON, EDITOR United Black Golfers Assn. wants to bring people and the game together PHOTO COURTESY UBGA - JACQUES LEANDRE, LEFT, AND VERNEL BENNETT OF THE UNITED BLACK GOLFERS ASSOCIATION AT A RECENT OUTING. When he helped found the United Black Golfers Association earlier this year, Vernel Bennett of Laurelton had the straightforward goal of broadening the availability and appeal of the sport in Southeast Queens. So he was more than a little pleased on March 8 when the group made its formal introduction, with dozens of interested visitors, and inquiries from as far away as Massachusetts. “It was more successful than I have imagined,” he said. “Word got out in the media. Now I know what it means when kids say something has gone viral.” Bennett, president of the association, said despite the name, the intent from the start was to provide an opportunity for all people of all ages who either enjoy the game or are interested in taking it up. For naysayers who decry that golf is not a sport, he laughs. “If you play a regulation 18 holes and don’t take a cart, you’re going to walk about six miles and do a lot of bending to pick up your ball,” he said. Bennett added that someone need not be aiming to be the next Tiger Woods for the game to help one’s career, such as business owners and sales representatives. “I started when I was 55,” he said. “I was a tax accountant for the government. I would go all over and meet all kinds of people on the job. But once people found out I played golf, they didn’t want to talk about anything else. We’d have to go to another room so people could work.” And once on the course, he said, you are playing, talking to and hanging out with any group you are in for hours. Queens has four public golf courses, Clearview park on Willets Point Boulevard; Douglaston Golf Course on Marathon Parkway; Forest Park Golf Course; and Kissena Golf Course on Booth Memorial Avenue. “Some people say it’s a rich man’s game,” he said. “And it can be. But I can also golf on a public course for as much as $75, or as little as $25, depending on the time I want to play. And golf travels. You don’t have to play only in Queens. I’ve played in North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.” People seeking further information on the United Black Golfers Association can visit the group’s website at The group also is on Facebook and Twitter.


United Black Golfers Break Stereotypes BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA The United Black Golfers Association, a newly-established not-for-profit, is seeking to swing past stereotypes by rolling out a new co-ed golf club in Southeast Queens. According to the group’s president, Vernel Bennett, UBGA’s mission is two-fold. The first is to expose residents in his community to the sport. The retired tax auditor from Laurelton said that he hopes this new golf club will help shatter the myth that golf is a “white man’s sport.” Southeast Queens residents Vernel Bennett (right) and Jacques Leandre (left) have started a golf club in an effort to break racial stereotypes about the sport and to give back to the community. “A lot of Blacks don’t play this particular sport because they don’t know it or understand it because they didn’t grow up with it as a child,” he said. “Some people still associate Black guys with basketball and white guys with golf. What we’re doing is opening of the eyes of the Black community to say you can play this sport.” Bennett, who founded the group with Laurelton attorney Jacques Leandre, also said he has hopes of reaching out to the community’s youth by introducing them to a sport they might not normally consider playing. “We’re trying to introduce the game to the younger guys also because this is a sport from the blue collar worker to the doctor,” he said. UBGA’s second goal, Bennett said, is to become a beneficial resource in the community. The not-for-profit has vowed to donate funds raised at fundraisers to neighborhood kids in pursuit of higher education – either in college or a trade school. “College is not for everybody, and we understand that. You might be a good mechanic and want to go to trade school,” he said. “If they are in a quality school, we will award them scholarship money toward school as a way to give back.” Bennett also noted that UBGA will aim to support other nonprofits and charities in the area, so long as they share the same goal of serving the community. Ironically, Bennett admits that when he first touched a golf club about seven years ago, he was put off by the sport. His first experience on a cruise ship with a less-than-pleasant instructor, he said, had driven him away from golf. But luckily, a year later, Bennett decided to give golf another shot and this time around, there was no tearing him away from the course. Soon after his passion for golf ignited, Bennett joined a golf association in Roosevelt, L.I., where he slowly began to rise up the ranks as a member of the executive board. A few years later, having realized there was a need for something like this in Southeast Queens, Bennett left the association to start UBGA. “This is a club that is for anybody who wants to join. Our club is co-ed and is open to people who are expert golfers to people who have never played…


Black Golfers Launch Group to Shatter Stereotypes, Get Urban Residents Onto the Green BY MELISSA CHAN  Monday, May 5, 2014, 2:00 AM Queens United Black Golfers Association — the first co-ed club of its kind in Queens — formed in March to nix the deep-rooted prejudice in the predominantly white sport. MELISSA CHAN - Vernel Bennett (left) and Jacques Leandre, both from Laurelton, started the United Black Golfers Association with hopes of uniting urban communities. Their strokes on the green still draw stares and snide remarks in what is supposed to be a “post-racial” America. A Queens-based group of black golfers has launched a nonprofit called the United Black Golfers Association — the first co-ed club of its kind in the borough — to nix the deep-rooted prejudice in the predominantly white sport. “Sometimes you don’t even get the verbal racism,” said Vernel Bennett, 62, who leads the progressive club. “It's in the silence. That doesn’t bother me, but it could bother people. I just smile because it’s typical.” The retired Laurelton man said he wants to shatter stereotypes and get urban residents of color into the game and onto the borough’s four public golf courses. Pro golfer and former champ Fuzzy Zoeller landed in hot water after the 1997’s Masters when he told Tiger Woods “in jest” not to serve fried chicken at the champions’ dinner. More recently, disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks got him banned from the NBA for life. “This isn’t something we can get away from,” said Jacques Leandre, the group’s vice president, of the bigotry. “That’s historical, and the remnants of that still exist.” The face of the sport has been changing, the golfer said, but it has been slow to come. MELISSA CHAN - Vernel Bennett, 62, learned to play golf on a cruise ship about seven years ago. The retired tax auditor said the game brings strangers together for sometimes five hours. “A lot of us would like to believe we live in a post-racial America,” said Leandre, a 43-year-old Laurelton attorney who unsuccessfully ran for City Council last year. “That doesn’t exist. Any time you go into a community or setting where you’re not the majority, there are going to be some stares. Some of them are from folks curious about why you’re there. Some wonder how you can afford the game.” The seven-member group, which formed in March, will welcome all races and genders, ranging from rookies to experts. Monthly membership is $20 after a one-time $100 fee. The fees go toward reduced-rate lessons with Professional Golf Association-certified trainers and biweekly group trips. Some Queens golfers teeing off at Kissena Park Golf Course Friday applauded the club’s efforts, saying they see more diversity on the city’s courses each year. “I don’t see race,” said Bayside resident Michael Scricca, who was at the golf course with others. “It's old-fashioned thinking, and every generation is getting smarter.” Club in hand, golfer Marty Puntus, 72, said it all boiled down to ability. “As…


New Queens golf group hopes to grow sport in black community BY LIAM LA GUERRE Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 12:28 PM EDT (Photo courtesy the UBGA) UBGA Vice President Jacques Leandre and President Vernel Bennett hopes to foster golf in the black community with their new group.   They’re not specifically looking for the next Tiger Woods, but two golf-loving Queens residents are hoping their new nonprofit can help foster the sport in the black community. Vernel Bennett, of Laurelton, and Jacques Leandre, of Rosedale, started the United Black Golfers Association(UBGA) — the first of its kind in Queens, they said — and the group will begin hosting meet-ups on golf courses shortly. Both Bennett, the president of the nonprofit, and his vice president, Leandre, were convinced to play the sport by others and know there is interest, but the sport isn’t as readily available. The nonprofit seeks to provide opportunities for people to play the game. “If we were exposed to it, we would love it,” Bennett said about the black community. “But our community is exposed to the typical stuff: a basketball court, a baseball field, a football field …” Bennett, a retired accountant, started playing golf after his son’s recommendation and a lesson on a cruise about seven years ago. He fell in love with the sport and after competing in tournaments and joining the Roosevelt Golf Association, and he realized the benefits of golfing, including the networking side. He believes through golf, members of the organization will be able to connect even if there is a generational gap. The UBGA is co-ed and accepts anyone over the age of 18. There is a monthly membership fee of $20, after a one-time $100 fee. The UBGA will make group trips to golf courses around the city, Long Island, and even New Jersey several times each month. And for beginners, there are private lessons available from certified trainers, with group and individual packages. Since announcing the creation of the association, Leandre said they have gotten a positive response from the community on social media. “The interest is there, but the engine isn’t. Right now UBGA is going to serve as the vehicle to take people to the golf course,” Leandre said. “It’s about exposing and creating an outlet for people to have a game that will last a lifetime.”