Theodore Rhodes, Bill Spiller and Madison Gunther sued the PGA Tour in 1948 for the right to play as non members in Tour events. The PGA amended its constitution as a result of the civil lawsuit.
Pete Brown was the first African American to win a PGA Tour Event. In 1964, Brown won the Waco Open; later, he would win the 1970 Andy Williams Open (now the Buick Open at Torrey Pines). He also won the 1961 Michigan Open, and was four time National Negro Champion.
Lee Elder turned pro in 1959, and in 1975 became the first African American to play at the Masters. He would play in five more, with his best finish at 17th. Elder also had four PGA Tour Victories, and eight on the Senior Tour. Elder also played on the 1979 Ryder Cup team.
Charlie Sifford worked as a caddy at age 13, and eventually became the first African American to join the PGA Tour. Sifford won the Long Beach Open in 1957, which while not an official Tour event, was cosponsored by the PGA. He eventually won two PGA Tour events, and six Negro Open Championships. Sifford had first attempted to get into a PGA Tour event in 1952, at the Phoenix Open, using an invitation obtained by Joe Louis. In 2004, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He chose Gary Player to make his presentation.
Before Tiger Woods, Calvin Peete was the most successful African American golfer on Tour. Peete won 12 tour events, and played on the 1983 and 1985 US Ryder Cup Teams. When the World Golf Rankings came out in 1986, Peete was in the top ten for several weeks. Peete was known as one of the straightest hitters on tour; some have speculated it was due to a bent right arm caused by an improperly set break. In his career, he finished as high as 11 in the US Open and Masters.