AFRICAN AMERICAN GOLF PIONEERS...JUST TO NAME A FEW

CALVIN PEETE

 

July 18, 1943 –  April 29, 2015 

Wins the Greater Milwaukee Open, the first of his 12 career PGA Tour victories. won the 1985 Tournament Players Championship and finished the season top-5 on the PGA Tour money list three times; 1982, 1983 and 1985.The most prolific African American winner before Tiger Woods.  

BILL SPILLER

October 25, 1913 – 1988 

Denied access to play in the Richmond Open despite qualifying, it sparked his fight against racism and oppression of Negro golfers. He spent years fighting the segregation policies of the PGA and wrote in the LA Sentinel in 1948: “Golf is new to Negroes and colored professional golfers are finding it difficult to make a living. As a Negro professional golfer, I say that I would rather see my little boy on a golf course caddying and trying to make a golfer of himself than any other place.

 

JOHN MATTHEW SHIPPEN, JR.

December 2, 1879 – May 20, 1968 

First African American on record to play a major PGA event, the U.S. Open. His best finishes came at the 1896 U.S. Open held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, and the 1902 U.S. Open held at Garden City Golf Club in Garden City, New York, where he tied for fifth place at both. 

RENEE POWELL

May 4, 1946 –

She was the second African-American woman   ever to play on the LPGA Tour joining Althea Gibson in 1967. She received   the PGA Tour Card Walker Award in 1997. Currently head professional at her family’s Clearview Golf Club in Canton, Ohio.

LEE ELDER

July 14, 1934 – 

The first African American to play in the Masters, in 1975. Although he missed the cut, he went on to win four times on the PGA Tour and eight times on the Champions Tour. He was the first African American to play in the Ryder Cup. 

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THEODORE "TED" RHODES

November 9, 1913 – July 4, 1969 

Second African American to play in the U.S. Open. Charlie Sifford called him “The Black Jack Nicklaus.” He won the United Golf Association (the Negro Golf League) Championship in 1949, ’50, ’51, and ’57. In 1948, he played in the U.S. Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, California and became recognized as the first African-American professional golfer. Rhodes and fellow African-American golfer Bill Spiller initiated litigation against the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) seeking removal of the association’s “Caucasian only clause”. Although they prevailed in the out-of-court settlement, the PGA circumvented the agreement by changing its tournaments to “invitationals” and invited only whites to participate. 

WILLIAM J. POWELL

November 22, 1916 – December 31, 2009 

African American businessman, entrepreneur, and pioneering golf course owner who designed the Clearview Golf Club, the first integrated golf course, as well as the first to cater to African-American golfers. He was also the first African American to design, construct and own a professional golf course in the United States. Powell was fond of saying “The only color that matters is the color of the greens”.

JACKSON PARK GOLF ASSOCIATION

IN THE BEGINNING...

The Jackson Park Golf Association (JPGA) was founded in the early 1990s by a group of golfers led by Elmer Beard and Dick Matthews to create an alliance with the Chicago Park District on behalf of minority golfers’ long-standing usage of the course.   

Additionally, the JPGA junior golf program for youth ages 6-17, was created to further enhance the growth of golf among minority youth.   

Most notably, in 1993, JPGA hosted a clinic and raised funds to support a rising junior champion, Tiger Woods, before his ascension to professional golfer.  

Tiger’s clinic showcased not only his exceptionalism but also inspired countless juniors, in particular African American youth, to view golf as a fun, enriching, and attainable sport. 

TIGER WOODS' GOLF CLINIC AT JACKSON PARK GOLF RANGE - 1993