Charlie Sifford’s Legacy

The LA Times has an article on the legacy of Charlie Sifford, the first African American to play on the PGA Tour.

Sifford is the Jackie Robinson of the golf world, a true pioneer who made it possible for others—including Tiger Woods—to follow. In his time, Sifford faced many of the same trials that Robinson did: heckling, fans kicking his ball into the rough; and worse.

The article also talks about how difficult it has been to bring golf to African American kids. Sifford says:

“You know how tough it is, man? It’s just so hard to get there,” he said. “These local kids don’t have no place to practice, they’re taught basketball, that’s where they see the money going, and football.

“I think Tiger’s done a wonderful job with his foundation and clinics, but there’s so much more work to be done. Sure, I might have proved something, but I’m glad I’m not out there playing now.”

Sifford also says that the demise of the caddy has kept African Americans out of the game:

“If we weren’t caddying, we were playing,” he said. “Those kind of things, they don’t exist anymore.”

The USGA has spent a lot of time lately worrying about a future with declining number of golfers. They’ve talked about ways to make the game easier, and ways to speed up rounds. But I haven’t heard much about diversifying the game. They should be thinking about ways to open the game to more minorities.



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