IMPORTANT MILESTONES IN GOLF
We've all heard of Tiger Woods! But there have been trailblazers and significant achievements, champions, and major players for a long time.
1896 – John Shippen
John Shippen, whose father was African-American and whose mother was Shinnecock Indian, plays in the second U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, where he worked as a caddie, at the age of 17. Some of the professional players threaten to boycott the event when they discover his race, but back down when USGA President Theodore Havemayer defends Shippen and another entrant, Shinnecock Indian Oscar Bunn. Shippen ties for sixth and wins $10. He goes on to play in five more U.S. Opens.
1926 – Robert Hawkins
Robert Hawkins stages his first tournament for African-American players. He stages another in 1927, and in 1928 creates the United Golf Associations, which ultimately established a tour for players excluded from PGA events.
1946 – William Powell
Returning home to East Canton, Ohio, after serving in the U.S. Air Force, William Powell is denied a G.I. loan for his plan to build a golf course. Powell secures funding from two African-American physicians while his brother takes out a second mortgage on his home, and builds Clearview Golf Club with his own hands. He becomes the only African-American to build, own and operate a golf course.
1957-1961 – Charlie Sifford
Charlie Sifford wins the Long Beach Open, an event co-sponsored by the PGA and with a field including many white players and becomes the first African-American player to earn a PGA Tour card. He wins the 1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational and the 1969 Los Angeles Open, as well as the 1975 PGA Seniors’ Championship and the 1980 Suntree Classic on what is now the Champions Tour.
1963 – Althea Gibson
Tennis great Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American to compete on the LPGA Tour.
1975 – Lee Elder
The great Lee Elder becomes the first African-American to play in the Masters. He misses the cut, but goes on to win four times on the PGA Tour and eight times on the Champions Tour.
1986 – Harold Dunovant
Harold Dunovant, a Life Member of The PGA of America, establishes the National Black Golf Hall of Fame.
Also in 1986 the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship is created to elevate the game of golf in minority colleges and universities by giving them a chance to compete in a championship because of being denied opportunities to compete in NCAA collegiate golf events.
1990: Businessman Ron Townsend becomes the first African-American member of Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters.
1994: Tiger Woods wins the first of his three straight U.S. Amateur titles.
1996: Tiger Woods wins NCAA Division 1-A individual title as a member of the Stanford golf team. A few months later, he turns professional and ties for 60th place in his debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He goes on to win two PGA Tour events and be named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
1997: Tiger Woods becomes first African-American to win the Masters as well as the youngest winner, and his 12-stroke margin of victory also sets a new Masters record. He goes on to win the PGA Tour money title for the first time, and captures his first PGA of America Player of the Year Award and PGA Tour Player of the Year Award. He also ascends to the No. 1 spot in the world ranking for the first time, but stays there only a week.
A New Century
A New Century
2005: Tiger Woods reassumes the No. 1 spot in the world ranking, and has yet to fall out of that spot, a total of 245 straight weeks.
2006: Tiger Woods opens his Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
2006: Charlie Sifford becomes the first African-American golfer to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
2007: Charlie Sifford receives the Old Tom Morris Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
2008: Renee Powell becomes the first female African-American golfer to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
2008: Junior Bridgeman becomes the third African-American to serve on the PGA Board of Directors, following a former NBA standout career and becoming a respected restaurant entrepreneur.
2009: The Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles creates “the Charlie Sifford Exemption” for a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf.
2009: The PGA of America honors Wiliam Powell with its Distinguished Service Award.
2009: The PGA of America bestows posthumous membership on Bill Spiller, John Shippen and Ted Rhodes, and honorary membership on Joe Louis.
2010: The PGA and USGA join together to create a centralized repository for artifacts and documents related to the history of African-Americans in golf. The repository will be located at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., but also will create public exhibitions and programs for diverse audiences at the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and at spectator events conducted by the USGA and The PGA.