It’s hard to imagine this sport without these great names. At one point in time, these legends would not even have been allowed to play with their white counterparts with their own PGA Tour card.
Until 1961, many of the courses and golf tournaments around the country were segregated to “Whites only.” In that very same year, Charlie Sifford, became the first African-American man and player to earn is PGA Tour card, allowing him to participate freely on tour. Just two years prior, he competed in the U.S. Open, a PGA event, and finished in 32nd place.
After Sifford broke this historic barrier, the PGA wised up and decided to remove its “Caucasian-only clause” that restricted minorities from participating. Waiving this rule allowed all players to compete in the PGA’s various golf tournaments.
For decades, black athletes had been trying to kick down the door keeping the out of segregated tournaments. Golf was more than a game to these players, it was their passion and lifestyle, and there was a need for change.
“Spiller had sued the golf association four years earlier, and threatened to do it again. He demanded that the PGA of America, then the last major sport organization to have a “Caucasian-only” rule, allow qualified black golfers to play in tournaments. The USGA had been allowing blacks to play in the National Open, but the pro tour remained all white.” – Ed Zieralski, San Diego Tribune
Today, the PGA is still lacking that central African-American/Black golf figure to rally around and stand behind. Now that Tiger Woods has regressed, the sport has no superstar to turn to. In 2015, Harold Varner III became just the second African American golfer to earn his PGA Tour card since 1996, Tiger’s rookie year.
While the men’s tour may be lacking in diversity, the women’s side is doing a little better. Keep an eye out for Mariah Stackhouse, Sadena Parks, Shasta Averyhardt and Tiger’s talented niece Cheyenne Woods. All four of these young Black LPGA athletes who are worth watching out on the links.