Tonight (Feb. 11) at 9:00 p.m., Golf Channel will air the special, “Uneven Fairways.” Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this 60-minute documentary will reveal the story of the little-known, but rich history of African-Americans who had the courage to stand up for their rights and pave the way for future stars of golf.
Referred to by many as the Jackie Robinson of golf, Charlie Sifford became the first African-American to break professional golf’s color barrier. He endured threats, mistreatment and racial abuse as he challenged and overcame the “Caucasian only” clause of the PGA of America, and later became the first card-holding member of the Tour in 1961.
Prior to joining the PGA, Sifford, sporting his ever-present cigar, won the UGA National Negro Open six times between 1952 and 1960, and the 1957 Long Beach Open, which included some well-known Caucasian players. After joining the PGA Tour, he went on to win two official money events — the 1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational and 1969 Los Angeles Open, and was among the top 60 money winners on the PGA Tour between 1960 and 1969.
In 1975, Sifford made history again when he won the PGA Seniors’ Championship, known today as the Senior PGA Championship. After the final round at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., Sifford and Fred Wampler were tied at 8-under-par, 280, forcing a playoff. On the first playoff hole, Sifford sunk a 22-foot putt to become the first African-America to have his name etched on senior golf’s most prestigious and historic prize, the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy.
After retiring from the game of golf in 2004, Sifford received an honorary degree from the University of St. Andrews as a Doctor of Law in 2006. He also became the first African-American to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
We are honored to have Charlie Sifford, a resident of Highland Heights, play a significant role in the 2009 Senior PGA Championship. Throughout his career he has truly been a pioneer, blazing a path few dared to travel, and he continues to be an inspiration to all.