As February is Black History Month, it’s fitting to talk about Charles Sifford, the first African-American to play on the PGA tour. Sifford was born in rural North Carolina in 1922. He started in golf as a caddie in the 1930s, making 60 cents/day. Of course, caddies get to play in their free time and by age 13, Sifford was frequently shooting par.
Charles Sifford won the National Negro Open five times in a row (1952-1956), while repeatedly being denied a PGA card. He was finally invited to the tour in 1960, when the PGA dropped it’s “Caucasian Only” rule, under pressure from the California attorney general.
Even though he was 39 when he joined the PGA, Sifford won two events–the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open. He went on the become one of the original members of the Champions Tour in 1975.
Sifford made history again in 2004 when he became the first African-American inductee in the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.
Two generations of African-American golfers are indebted to Mr. Sifford’s efforts. Tiger Woods was quoted at Mr. Sifford’s induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame as saying, “He has my respect and my gratitude for the sacrifices he made to open the doors to this great game to people of color.”