Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Charlie Sifford was born on June 2, 1922 in Charlotte, North Carolina. His story stood out to me because he was the first African American to play in the Professional Golfers Association. He has since been called the Jackie Robinson of golf. One year after Jackie Robinson’s courageous integration of Major League Baseball in 1946, Charlie said he planned on doing the same thing to golf. He grew up being a caddie earning 60 cents and by age 13 he could shoot par.
He started his career with hardships in 1952 at the Phoenix Open alongside four other black competitors, including Joe Louis (it’s all coming together :-)). Their hardships during this open included excrements in the first hole and having to wait over an hour for them to replace it. He ended up breaking barriers and par in this open. He then won the National Negro open five straight times from 1952-56, but he didn’t earn a PGA player card until 1960. He then won the PGA tour twice in 1967 and 1969; about 5 years after the PGA dropped its “Caucasian only” clause.
He not only broke barriers during his playing years, but in 2004 he became the first black golfer to be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame, which only had about 100 people in it over all. He broke barriers single handedly and allowed for people like Tiger Woods, and all those little golfers out there, to be able to not only compete but also succeed in the golf world. He currently resides in Houston, Texas with his wife of fifty years. He has since been in periodicals and written an autobiography about his experience. He’s an amazing person who fought obstacles for not only himself, but for a whole culture of people.