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Black History Month: Trailblazers in Golf

February is Black History Month, and we are honoring it by highlighting the contributions of African Americans in golf. Players like Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, and Tiger Woods are well-known for their feats on the course, but many unsung innovators and heroes -- from activists to designers to entrepreneurs to players -- have also had important and lasting impacts on the game. To celebrate these lesser-known trailblazers, we shine a light on some of their achievements.

A Long History of Contributions

Top (Left to Right): John Shippen, Dr. George Grant, Joseph Bartholomew

Bottom (Left to Right): Helen Webb Harris, Wake-Robin Golf Club Members

1826: John Shippen becomes the first African American golfer to play in the U.S. Open. Learn More

1899: Dr. George Grant receives a patent for the modern wooden golf. Learn More

1922: Joseph Bartholomew designs and builds the Metairie Golf Club in New Orleans, beginning his career as the first African American golf course architect. Banned by segregation laws, he was never able to play on most of the courses he designed.

Top: (Left to Right): Pappy Stokes, Bill Powell. Bottom (Left to Right): Lucious Bateman, Greensboro Six

1938: Pappy Stokes becomes the youngest caddy to be “on the bag” for a win at the Masters. He was among the first in a long line of elite Black career caddies at Augusta and other courses around the nation. Learn More

1948: Bill Powell opens Clearview Golf Club in Ohio and becomes the first African American to design, construct and own a professional golf course in the United States. Learn More

1949: Lucious Bateman is offered a job as a handyman at Airway Fairways Driving Range in Oakland and goes on to teach thousands of boys golf for free at the facility over the next two decades. Learn More

1955: Just one week after Rosa Parks refuses to move to the back of a Montgomery bus, the Greensboro Six play the Gillespie Golf Course in an act of civil disobedience and are arrested for trespassing. Learn More

(Left to Right): Ann Gregory, Althea Gibson

1956: Ann Gregory becomes the first Black woman to play a USGA championship at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis.

1964: After breaking barriers in tennis, Althea Gibson becomes the first Black LPGA tour member. Learn More 

(Left to Right): Bill Dickey, Eddie Payton, Renee Powell

1984: Mentor and golf advocate Bill Dickey starts the National Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association, pioneering significant contributions to junior golf. Learn More

1995, 1999: Under the leadership of Head Coach Eddie Payton, the Jackson State University Men’s and Women’s Golf Teams become the first from a historically black college to compete in the NCAA championships. Learn More

2017: Renee Powell is elected into the PGA Hall of Fame for her many achievements, including being the first female Head Professional. Regarded as one of the foremost ambassadors of the game, she remains an influential advocate for diversity in golf.

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