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Celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity at the Southwest Showcase at Cedar Crest

Explorer C

Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines, in partnership with I Am A Golfer Foundation, hosted our inaugural Showcase at Cedar Crest—a nationally televised amateur invitational spotlighting the talents of top collegiate golfers from diverse backgrounds—in Dallas, Texas. The 54-hole stroke play event featured concurrent championships for exceptional fields of 21 men and 21 women representing over 33 colleges and universities across 21 states. 


This year marked the first year Southwest Airlines was the Title Sponsor of the Southwest Showcase at Cedar Crest, which took place from Nov. 11 – 13. This nationally televised invitational spotlights the talents of a diverse group of top college-aged golfers and gives a platform to 21 men and 21 women representing over 33 colleges and universities across 21 states.



We partnered with the I Am A Golfer Foundation, whose mission is to be a catalyst for community renewal and transformation in Southern Dallas. They seek to provide resources and opportunities to those from underserved communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.


Our role through this sponsorship seeks to shine a light on the work the foundation and tournament do in the Dallas community and beyond. At Southwest Airlines, we believe in connecting people to what’s important in their lives, especially in the communities where our Customers and Employees live, work, and play. Whether in the air or on the ground, we believe community is more than a place—it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.


Through our Marketing and Community Outreach efforts, we prioritize workforce development; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and sustainability. Our focused and strategic approach to DEI is anchored in doing the right thing. Southwest recognizes, respects, and values differences. By fostering a Culture that embraces and utilizes unique skills, talents, and backgrounds, we create competitive advantages in Teamwork and innovation that contribute to our overall success.


As a Southwest Airlines Employee, I had the incredible opportunity to partner with several Cohearts to bring the Southwest Showcase at Cedar Crest to life. It was an experience that filled me with pride and admiration for our commitment to inclusivity and the celebration of diversity. The overwhelming joy and happiness I witnessed on the faces of these students and parents brought tears to my eyes, making it a truly unforgettable experience.


The multi-day tournament kicked off Nov. 11 with a tour at Southwest’s Leadership Education Aircrew Development (LEAD) Center, where we house our simulator bay. The players saw first-hand some of the training our Pilots go through. Later that day, the collegiate athletes engaged with the Dallas community at the Nike Made-to-Play Golf Experience at Cedar Crest, where over 100 school-aged students came out to play in a golf circuit training exercise. There were over 10 stations set up that allowed the younger students to practice their swings, putting, and coordination. They rounded out the day with a welcome party at Top Golf, where players heard from Southwest’s Senior Vice President & Chief Customer Officer, Tony Roach, enjoyed dinner with event sponsors, and played a few rounds of golf in the bays.


On Sunday, Nov. 12, the players had their hand at playing with Southwest Leaders in preparation for the big tournament. After the sponsored golf tournament, the players finished the day with a dinner at the Omni Hotel, where they heard from a panel of true trailblazers making history at Southwest and in the golf industry. The panel, moderated by Roger Steele, a golf-content creator, consisted of Southwest’s Managing Director Labor Relations, Anthony Wafer; Charlie Sifford Jr., son of Dr. Charlie Sifford, who won the 1954 UGA Black National Open at Cedar Crest; Renee Powell, golf champion; and PGA General Manager and Director of Golf at Cedar Crest, Ira Molayo.


We finished the rest of the week with a three-day tournament open to the public. Community members across Dallas supported the collegiate athletes by writing inspirational messages on a motivational message board and cheering on the students. This tournament was like no other and filled with Southwest flair and our legendary Fun-LUVing Attitude. Guests spun the prize wheel and received Southwest swag, and we even had a DJ to announce the players and play their theme music as they came up to the 18th hole. On day two, we witnessed a hole-in-one shot on hole 15 by Emma Heningsson, which set a new course record at Cedar Crest.


Emma Heningsson’s hole-in-oneEmma Heningsson’s hole-in-oneThe event rounded out as we announced the winners for the men’s and women’s divisions. Congratulations to Allyn Stephens and Gregory Odom Jr. on being the first winners of the inaugural Southwest Showcase at Cedar Crest, and congrats to all the competitors!


Women’s division winner, Allyn StephensWomen’s division winner, Allyn Stephens
Men’s division winner, Gregory Odom JrMen’s division winner, Gregory Odom JrOverseeing the Southwest Showcase at Cedar Crest as a Southwest Airlines Employee was an incredibly rewarding experience. Witnessing the celebration of diversity and the recognition given to students in golf was truly inspiring. Southwest Airlines' commitment to inclusivity was evident throughout the event, making it a powerful platform for highlighting equality and inspiring future generations. I’m proud to be part of an organization that actively uplifts individuals who might be hidden figures. Our commitment to the city of Dallas remains strong, and we look forward to next year’s Southwest Showcase at Cedar Crest. Stay tuned for more in 2024!