History of black golfers filled with the legacy of perseverance, energy

For God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I was proud to see Tiger Woods be one of the shining stars at the Masters Golf Tournament this year. During his illustrious career, he won at least 75 professional tournaments and collected over $800 million in prize money and sponsorships.

But, has it always been this way for black golfers? Apparently not. After looking into the matter, I learned that there were many others who had set the stage for Tiger and his contemporaries of color.

To paint this colorful picture, allow me to present a succinct timeline of black golfers based on various sources, primarily BlackThen.com and Blackpast.org:

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Tiger Woods during the first round of the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 7, 2022 in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

the Shady Rest Golf and Country Club (1880) in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, becomes the first African-American golf club in the United States. I’m told it was an essential stop on the Chitlin circuit for black artists.

John Matthew Shippen Jr. is recognized as the first African-American professional golfer. I consider him a pioneer. He achieved this distinction when he participated in the US Open in 1896. He got his start working as a caddy, instructor and repairman at the Shinnecock Hills golf course. He then designed and sold his own golf clubs. The PGA granted him posthumous membership in 2009.

Born into slavery, Groves of Junius took full advantage of his newfound freedom. He became one of the most successful black men in America. He, his wife and their 12 children produced the most bushels of potatoes per acre of anyone else in the world in 1902. In fact, the Union Pacific Railroad built a track to his property in due to its shipping quantity. He created a town called Center Groves in eastern Kansas which included a golf course for African Americans.

United Golf Associationformed by and for blacks in 1925.

Lil Willie Adamsnumbers runner (bolita), businessman, and venture capitalist was part of a team that funded circa 1944 lawsuits all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for Baltimore golf course integration Maryland.

Bill Powell was the first black person to design, build and own a professional golf course (1946) in the United States.

Theodore “Ted” Rhodes was a pioneer. According to legend, he paved the way for other African-American golfers by playing the circuit sponsored by the United Golfers Association (UGA). In 1948, Ted sued the Professional Golfers’ Association for its “Caucasians-Only Clause”. Amazingly, he won. After looking into this matter closely, I learned that the PGA would settle out of court, but changed their tournament policy to one of “invitations”.

Althea Gibson, former FAMU tennis great who won the Wimbledon Championship in 1957.

According to the Library of Congress, Althea Gibson, was a Florida A&M University graduate who eventually became the first black athlete to win accolades in international tennis and golf. Of course, most people know that she won tennis titles like the French Open, the Asian Open and the Wimbledon titles (personally receiving the trophy in 1957 from Queen Elizabeth), some of ‘most of us may not know that in 1964 she also became the first black woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour.

Leonard Reed An artist is best remembered for co-creating the famous tap routine Shim Sham Shimmy which has been performed by dancers around the world. Even so, he was a close comrade to boxer Joe Louis during the heavyweight’s efforts to break golf’s color barrier. Notably, they helped force the PGA to drop the “Caucasians only” clause in its charter in 1961.

Dr. Earl Miller was the first board-certified African-American urologist west of the Mississippi River. While practicing general medicine in Columbus, Georgia in the 1960s, he was an active leader in desegregating the city‘s golf courses.

James Baccate, a Gullah Geechee historian and others visited Jekyll Island State Park for fun in the sun. They were denied access to the golf course. He and the NAACP filed a desegregation lawsuit in 1964 and won. Coincidentally, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that same year.

FILE - Lee Elder waves as he arrives for the ceremonial tee shots before the first round of the Masters golf tournament on Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. At far right is Phil Mickelson.  The person on the right in the basket is not identified.  Elder broke racial barriers as the first black golfer to play in the Masters and paved the way for Tiger Woods and others to follow.  The PGA Tour has confirmed Elder's death, first reported by Debert Cook of African American Golfers Digest.  No cause or details were immediately available, but the tour said it spoke with Elder's family.  He was 87 years old.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Elder Lee was the first African American to cross the color barrier and enter the Masters Golf Tournament (1975).

During his 20-year career on the PGA Tour, calvin peete finished fourth on the money list in 1982. Comparing black golfers, he had 12 wins, a record that would only be surpassed by Tiger Woods.

Renee Powell speaks after receiving the Charlie Sifford Award during the World Golf Hall of Fame ceremony on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Renee Powell is one of only seven women and the only black woman to have been inducted into the Royal and Ancient Golf Club located in St. Andrews, Scotland (2015). As most people know, this place is considered the birthplace of golf.

Based on an article in The New York Times Upfront magazine, we affirm that the landmark decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1892) was one of the most important. As a result, the United States Supreme Court endorsed the “separate but equal” clause.

It segregated populations in public facilities based on race, without fully considering racial practices that have resulted in the exclusion of blacks and other minorities from tax-funded places such as golf courses and country clubs. clubs.

Nevertheless, the lone dissenter on the bench, Judge John Harlan, a Caucasian, wrote: “As far as civil rights are concerned, all citizens are equal before the law. The most humble is the peer of the most powerful.

Thanks to people like him, we can all share the true meaning of the American Constitution, as it states that “all men are created equal under law”.

Even in golf.

Reverend Gene Hall

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