Owens was born in Winter Haven, Florida. He played football at Florida A&M University and served in the U.S. Army. He suffered injuries to both knees and his left ankle during a parachute jump at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1952 which left him handicapped.
Owens turned professional in 1967 and joined the PGA Tour in 1970. During his seven years on the Tour, he won the 1971 Kemper Asheville Open, a "satellite" PGA Tour event. Owens played with a limp and played all golf shots cross-handed. The biggest year of his professional career came on the Senior PGA Tour in 1986, when he won twice in a three tournament span, and finished eighth on the money list with $207,813.
Owens also is credited with inventing and popularizing a "belly putter which he used to overcome the yips.
He lives in Tampa. He won the Ben Hogan award in 1987 and was inducted into the African American Golfers Hall of Fame in 2007.