Dr. Charles Sifford
More than Golf . . . African American Golf History is American History!
SWING HOPE INTO ACTION HONOREE
Dr. Charles Luther Sifford (known as Charlie Sifford) was the first African American
to earn a PGA Tour card (1964), the first African American to win a PGA co-sponsored
non sanctioned event (1957 Long Beach Open), and the first African American inductee
into the World Golf Hall of Fame. (Sifford was inducted in 2004 and as of 2014,
Sifford remained the only World Golf Hall of Fame African American inductee.)
On November 24, 2014, President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal
of Freedom Award to Dr. Charles Sifford.
Sifford has also received two honorary Doctor of Laws degrees - in 2006 from the
University of St. Andrews (Scotland, England), and in 2007 from Lincoln University
(Jefferson City, Missouri).
In 1948 at age 26, Sifford turned professional. He played on the United Golfers
Association (UGA) circuit and claimed the UGA's Negro National Open championship
title six times (1952-1956 and 19660).
On March 28, 1960 Charlie Sifford, at age 38, became the first African American
to receive PGA Approved Tournament Player (ATP) status. However, because of
the PGA "Caucasian Only" Clause, Sifford could not become a PGA Member.
In 1962, the "Caucasian Only" Clause was deleted from The PGA of America bylaws.
The abolishment of this racist clause opened doors for African Americans to compete in PGA Tour events and major golf events; however, it did not open the door for Sifford to play in the Masters Tournament. Sifford played professional golf for almost half a century, but he never received an invitation to play in a Masters Tournament.
In 1964, Charlie Siford was awarded full PGA membership. Three years later, he captured his first PGA Tour win - the 1967 Greater Hartford Open. Two years later, Sifford won another PGA Tour event - the 1969 Los Angeles Open. Sifford competed in 422 PGA Tour events and made the cut in 399 PGA Tour events. In 1975, Sifford joined the Senior PGA Tour (renamed Champions Tour). That same year, he won the PGA Senior Championship.
In 1985 Sifford ranked in the top 28 on the Champions Tour money list. That ranking gave him exemption status; thus, in 1986, sixty-four year-old Charlie Sifford became the oldest player to receive a Champions Tour exemption.
In 2009, Northern Trust Open established, in support of diversity of golf, an annual tournament exemption in honor of Charlie Sifford. The inaugural exemption coincided with the 40th anniversary celebration of Sifford's 1969 Los Angeles Open victory.
Born June 2, 1922 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charles Luther Sifford started caddying when he was about ten years old. On May 3, 2011 in Sifford's city of birth - Revolution Park Golf Course was renamed The Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park. From the 1920s through the 1950s, this municipal golf course was a "whites-only" course and operated under the name of Bonnie Brae Golf Course. Dr. Charles Sifford died on February 3, 2015.