Charlie Sifford earned his Tour card in 1960 at the age of 39. One year later the PGA removed its “whites-only” rule from its constitution. He began work as a caddy at the age of thirteen. Later he competed in the golf tournaments that black golfers organized for themselves as they were excluded from the PGA of America, and worked as a personal golf coach for band leader Billy Eckstine. He first attempted to qualify for a PGA Tour event at the 1952 Phoenix Open, using an invitation obtained by former World heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. Sifford is a symbolic reminder of courage and determination and was part of a movement that changed America.

Certainly, there were many changes in 1961, when Mr. Sifford became the first black to play fulltime on the PGA Tour. Sifford was part of the post World War II civil rights movement that included track star Jesse Owens, James Meredith, boxer Joe Louis, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and, many others that broke major color barriers because of the shameful conditions ‘Whites Only’. If you search the PGA files for black faces you will find Rafe Botts, Pete Brown, Jim Dent, Calvin Peete, Curtis Sifford, Nathaniel Starks, Bobby Stroble, Jim Thorpe, Charlie Sifford, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods. Yes, I through Vijay in, comment if you don’t like It. On the LPGA you will find tennis great Althea Gibson, Renee Powell, LaRee Pearl Sugg, and Andia Winslow. Our past is not as distant as we sometimes try to pretend it is.

Even though he was 39 when he joined the PGA, better late, than never is the story of Charlie Sifford.

1952 UGA National Negro Open
1953 UGA National Negro Open

1954 UGA National Negro Open

1955 UGA
National Negro Open
1956 UGA National Negro Open, Rhode Island Open

1957 Long Beach Open

1960 UGA National Negro Open, Almaden Open (one year prior to becoming a PGA Tour event)

1963 Puerto Rico Open

1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational
(PGA Tour)
1969 Los Angeles Open (PGA Tour)

1971 Sea Pines

Senior PGA Tour wins

1980 Suntree Classic
Other senior wins
1975 PG
A Seniors’ Championship
1988 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Legendary Division (with Roberto DeVicenzo)

1989 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Legendary Division (with Roberto DeVicenzo)
1991 Liberty
Mutual Legends of Golf – Legendary Division (with Roberto DeVicenzo)
1998 Liberty M
utual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Joe Jimenez)
1999 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Jo
e Jimenez)
2000 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Joe Jimenez)

In 2004, Sifford became the first African American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. On June 22, 2006, he received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews as a Doctor of Laws. He also received the 2007 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA’s highest honor.

In 2009, the Northern Trust Open created an exemption for a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf; it is named in honor of Sifford and is referred to as the Charlie Sifford Exemption. Appropriately credited for changing the face of golf, toughened by a tour where the participants were white. Sifford faced the challenges and did the impossible.

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