February 3, 2016
Much has occurred in the golf industry over the past few years, we are witnessing a change of the guard by the presence of young guns represented by the play of Jordan Spieth, Rory McElroy, Jason Day and list goes on forever. Many of them have resulted in major impacts on the industry and individual lives. The editors of Minority Golf Magazine will publish a series of articles in the coming weeks reflecting on the above-mentioned stories and importantly, there will be a reflection on the golfing greats who have passed on recently. Their legacies remain and their impact on our sport should serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have known them.
At the head of the class was Charles “Charlie” Sifford.
By Herschel Caldwell
When I was growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio in the late 50’s and early 60’s, Black golfers were relegated to playing at the few public courses available to them: Sharon Woods, Winton Woods, the Lunken Airport driving range and the regional “hub” of Black golf, Avon Field. While Avon was not very long or challenging compared to many of the newer public courses, it served as a magnet for some of the best Black players in the country, including Curtis Sifford, Jim and Chuck Thorpe, Ted Rhodes, James Black and Pete Brown. Many other great Black professionals, like Jimmy Woods, were well-qualified but never had a chance to play on the PGA tour. Young, minority players of the time could only marvel at the wealth of golf talent that graced these fairways in Cincinnati, and–by virtue of the “money” games–other local and regional courses such as Coffin in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Madden in Dayton, Ohio.
Blacks also had their own professional golf organization, the United Golfers Association (UGA). Dating back to 1938, the UGA sponsored and held golf tournaments on what was affectionately called the “Chit’lin’ Circuit.” There, minority players like Rhodes, Brown, Charlie Sifford, the Thorpes, Lee Trevino, ChiChi Rodriquez, Calvin Peete, Lee Elder (the first Black golfer invited to play in the Masters) and countless others, honed their skills. Right about this time the faces and talent of minorities began to surface in other realms of golf, including on the prestigious PGA Tour. Many more changes have occurred in the golf industry over the past few years, most of which have majorly impacted the industry as a whole, as well as the lives of individual players.
Many of the minority golf players mentioned in this article did not live to enjoy the hard-fought victories brought about by integration and assimilation in the golf industry. In the coming weeks, the editors of Minority Golf Magazine will publish a series of articles reflecting on the minority Legends of golf, with particular emphasis on those golfing greats who have recently passed on. Their legacies remain and their impact on our sport should serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have had them as role models. Let’s review a couple of them now:
Born in 1923, and in his sixties during the late 50’s-early-60’s, Sifford’s supreme level of play enabled him to be a regular on the PGA Tour. I declared my professional senior status 25 years ago, and as a result was privileged to play practice rounds and even compete with and against Sifford. As a young lad, I had already teed-up with many of the better “money” players of the day: “Dead Straight,” “Tater Pie,” Hank Moore and Willie “Dancing Man” Kellum. That said, I thought I had a pretty good game. However, Charlie was not impressed. In fact, he was rarely impressed with anyone–including “Jack,” “Arnie,” “Sam” and “Ben.” They had country club credentials. He had hard knocks.
When not playing a PGA Senior event, Sifford could be seen teeing it up at the local Black tournament events on the ‘Circuit. He was never out of touch with the common man, and he was always ready to spend time with young minority professionals who sought his mentorship and down-to-earth advice. “Nobody gon’ give you a ‘G-damn’ thing,” quipped Charlie. “If they let you play, you gotta prove you can.” As for player qualifications, said Sifford, “If you can’t get the ball in the hole in less strokes than the next guy, you better find something else to do.”*
Despite the institutional and personal hurdles of racism on the tour, Charlie–like Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson and most other Black sports legends–never wavered in his quest for superb play, leadership and devotion to his game. It is on Charlie’s broad shoulders that many after him stand and will continue in the shadow of his legacy. Golf was his life and America was his home–both of which are better because of him. Hit ‘em Charlie, you are now in a place where the fairways are even and the greens are always true. Moreover, they will let you play!
February 25, 2015
A Caribbean experience you will never forget
By Patricia Caldwell
(photos in this article courtesy of the U.S. Virgin Department of Tourism and Minority Golf Magazine)
(This article will move to the Travel Section of Minority Golf Magazine next month. Travel is an important feature of our online magazine and many have requested our views on places to play and stay.)
A most enchanting excursion awaits the visitor to the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is an experience you will never forget and will yearn to repeat. Pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, charming local culture and centuries of intriguing history all contribute do the allure of the three beautiful Caribbean gems: St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. There are actually 50 islands in all, some merely rocks or islets jutting out on the shimmering turquoise waters. While St. John and St. Thomas lie between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, St. Croix lies entirely in the Caribbean. Read more
February 6, 2015
Charlie Sifford shown here in a work-in-progress painting of minority golf legends by Herschel Caldwell.
At the time I was growing up in the early 60’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, Black golfers were relegated to playing at the few public courses available to them: Sharon Woods, the Lunken Airport driving range, Winton Woods–and the regional “hub” of Black golf, Avon Field. While Avon was not very long or challenging (compared to many of the newer public courses), it served as a magnet for some of the best Black players in the country, including Jim and Chuck Thorpe, Curtis Sifford, Ted Rhodes, James Black and Pete Brown. Many other great Black professionals, like Jimmy Woods, were well-qualified but never had a chance to play on the PGA tour. Those of us minority players who were in our early 20s at the time, could only marvel at the wealth of golf talent that graced the fairways of Avon Field and other local and regional courses like Coffin in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Madden in Dayton, Ohio–as well as others–by virtue of the “money” games. Read more
January 8, 2015
This is old news but worth noting again as golf moves into a new year attempting to gain participants from all corners of American society. This page will feature other ways of attracting new and keeping the old in the coming months. (ed.)
Augusta National Billy Payne announced that the club will welcome two new female members.
Billy Payne improved August National today.
By accepting Condi Rice and Darla Moore, he made a move in keeping with the club’s traditions. He admitted two people who love golf and who are prominent in their fields and who are well known and well liked by the membership. There’s nothing exceptional about that. The club admits new members every fall.
But Billy parted with tradition here in two ways. First, for a club that always says membership practices are a private matter, he announced the two new members by way of press release. And the only reason he did that was because the two new members are women. Read more
January 8, 2015
Tiger Woods’ Bluejack National is his first domestic course design
By Herschel Caldwell
MONTGOMERY, Texas — As many American golf luminaries were still stewing over the latest U.S. Ryder Cup failure, Tiger Woods was inspecting a muddy expanse about 40 minutes northwest of Houston, assessing progress on his first domestic course design, Bluejack National.
With pen, paper and tablet in hand on the hush-hush visit, Woods spent a day shaping the hilly layout, which will be part of a private family club development when it opens in the fall of 2015. Read more
January 8, 2015
by Joe Passov
Woods announced on his website Tuesday that he will team with Donald Trump to craft a new 18-hole championship course for Trump World Golf Club Dubai. The new course will be located within the 55 million square-foot master community of Akoya Oxygen, a Trump Organization/DAMAC Properties collaboration. Coincidence or not, the new course will be mostly located on the site of his aborted first design, Al Ruwaya, that was abandoned before completion in 2009. Read more
November 13, 2014
By Pete Madden, Senior Producer, Golf.com
Illustration by Herschel Caldwel
Charlie Sifford, who became the first black player to earn his PGA Tour card in 1961, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Monday.
August 5, 2014
By Herschel CaldwellDecember 1994: Surgery on left knee to remove two benign tumors and scar tissue.
Dec. 13, 2002: Surgery on left knee to remove fluid inside and outside the ACL and remove benign cysts from his left knee. Misses the season opener in 2003.
August 2007: Ruptures the ACL in his left knee while running on a golf course after the British Open, but is able to keep playing. Wins five of the last six tournaments he plays, including the PGA Championship for his 13th major.
August 5, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Joe LaCava walked nearly every blade of grass on the 18th green at Valhalla Golf Club, jotting notes in his yardage book after stepping off the distances from every edge of the green to every possible pin position. It was just like any other Monday at a major.
The caddie just didn’t know whether any of this information would be useful in the PGA Championship. LaCava was awaiting word on whether his boss — Tiger Woods — would be healthy enough to play the final major of the year.
“I’m optimistic,” LaCava said after he finished charting the entire golf course. “I’m hoping he plays. So I’m just doing whatever work I would normally do.”
August 17, 2013
by Herschel Caldwell
Lizette Salas is proving she deserves to be on the big stage; The 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team. A captain’s pick, Salas played well enough to win her match on Friday partnered with Stacy Lewis. But they ran into a buzz saw European team of Anna Nordqvist and 17 year old phenom, Caroline Hedwall losing 4&2.
Salas has been a student of LPGA hall of famer and legend Nancy Lopez for nearly two years. “Sales is a brilliant golfers who has a very bright future on the LPGA, she is also grounded and has a great sense of history and the role she wishes to play.” Says Lopez. Her mom and dad walked inside the ropes up and down of a very hilly Colorado course beaming with pride. “She is our baby all grown up and we are very proud of her.” Says a smiling father.
Editor’s note: Minorities are not strangers to the elite field of golfers representing the United States in team competition. Nancy Lopez has served as a player with a stellar record and as a team captain. Calvin Peete was the first African American to represent the United States on the Ryder Cup team. Lezette Salas deservingly takes her place representing the United States and a very proud Latino community.