Golf developed into a well-liked sport for black gamers all through the nation all through the 20th century, from cading for white gamers to turning into nice golfers themselves. However this street was not simple. As historian LJ Williams wrote in a 1951 article for Negro Historical past Bulletin, “To start with, for essentially the most half, Negroes had been confined solely to programs utilized by Negroes.” Golf was an exclusionary sport—and one which black gamers needed to struggle for his or her proper to play. As historian George B. “Golf was an early battlefield of the civil rights motion in the US,” explains Kirsch.

through Hennepin County Library

The primary struggle was truly a class-based one. The game was largely considered as a rich man’s pastime, however by the early 1900s, the emphasis was on offering public golf programs. As one journalist reported in 1913, “golf ought to and ought to be made accessible to all, poor or wealthy, within the curiosity of higher and higher citizenship.” Such arguments labored, and cities throughout the nation started constructing municipal golf programs. Though all courses had been having fun with the sport, Kirsch factors out that a lot of the gamers had been white. However within the mid-twentieth century, the rise of the general public golf course “additionally noticed the rising reputation of the game amongst lower- and middle-class African People, who had been excluded from white nation golf equipment.”

Though entry to public programs was simpler within the north, it was not at all times assured. For instance, in 1910, golfer Walter Speedy was denied entry to Chicago’s Jackson Park together with three different black golfers. Speedy later co-founded the Alpha Golf Membership and arranged Chicago’s first African American golf event. Speedy received the event, incomes the proper to compete in opposition to white golfers within the Novice Golf Match at Jackson Park. However within the years that adopted, event organizers launched plenty of guidelines designed to exclude black gamers, ultimately barring them from collaborating immediately. In response, middle- and high-income black gamers started to start out their very own non-public golf equipment.

through Hennepin County Library

Different golf associations, specifically the Skilled Golfers Affiliation (PGA), restricted their membership to white gamers. Since its founding in 1916, the group has stored it as a imprecise rule, including to its whites-only coverage in writing in 1943. And from there, in response to historian Thomas B. Jones, “the PGA fully excluded African People from collaborating in its tournaments.” Till 1961.

By the Forties, there was an organized motion to combine the programs. In 1941, for instance, after getting approval from the Secretary of the Inside, three black golfers, together with six cops, performed a spherical on the East Potomac Park Golf Course in Washington DC. As they performed, they encountered “a hostile mob of whites who mocked them and threatened to assault them.” Though the secretary didn’t see any motive to exclude the gamers, he felt that he couldn’t present ample safety for them, and “those that tried to play at totally different native municipal programs took fairly a private Did it in danger.”

A collection of lawsuits within the Forties and Fifties introduced discriminatory programs to courtroom, with many programs falling aside solely after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though every of those fits escalated the struggle for equality to various levels, merely rising them was a step towards the purpose. As Kirsch famous, “Behind these authorized battles had been tons of of African American golfers and their attorneys who fought each step of the way in which for the proper to play the sport on a public foundation.”


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By: LJ Williams

Negro Historical past Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 3 (December 1951), pp. 52-54

Affiliation for the Research of African American Life and Historical past

by: George B. Kirsch

The Journal of African American Historical past, Vol. 92, No. 3 (Summer time, 2007), pp. 371-391

College of Chicago Press on behalf of the Affiliation for the Research of African American Life and Historical past

By: Thomas B Jones

Minnesota Historical past, Vol. 58, No. 8 (Winter, 2003/2004), pp. 382-393

Minnesota Historic Society Press



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