ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum officially opened "Honoring the Legacy: A Tribute to African-Americans in Golf" on Friday with a ceremony including Hall of Fame member Charlie Sifford and LPGA pioneer Renee Powell, along with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
Developed with the support of the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the USGA, this permanent exhibition contains rare photographs, audio, video and memorabilia to highlight the long, rich history of African-Americans in golf starting with pioneers from the late 1800s through today’s game.
"I'm happy that golf fans from around the world can come to the Hall of Fame and learn about the amazing stories of African-Americans in golf," said Sifford, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. "It is gratifying to see so many within the golf industry come together with the Hall of Fame to make this exhibition a reality."
Sifford's PGA Player Card from 1960, the document that officially broke golf's color barrier, is one of many items on display, along with others from 1985 Players champion Calvin Peete, boxing legend Joe Louis and tennis great Althea Gibson. Tablet technology featuring profiles of prominent African-Americans in golf along with an interactive, touch-screen video display make this one of the Hall of Fame's most advanced exhibits. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an original sculpture, "The DNA of the Golf Swing," designed by renowned sculptor Mario Chiodo and features 13 African-American golf legends.
"The PGA of America is proud to contribute to this important exhibition at the World Golf Hall of Fame which honors individuals, including PGA members, who paved a brave trail to ensure racial equity in golf," said PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua. "Their stories should forever be remembered, as the rights they stood up for remain a noble cause. From those that opened the door for all to enjoy the game to golfers today who honor this tradition by playing at the highest level, we pay tribute to the legacies African-Americans have made to further golf and foster equality."
"It certainly is fitting that such a meaningful exhibit for our sport is opening 50 years to the week that Pete Brown etched his name in golf history by becoming the first African-American golfer to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament,” said Finchem. "We should never lose sight of these poignant stories of overcoming significant challenges to make a lasting impact on golf, and the PGA Tour is proud to collaborate with the other golf organizations to help tell this important story."
"This exhibit honors not just great players, but great people who broke through barriers and did so with determination and dignity," said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. "The USGA is proud to collaborate with the PGA of America and PGA Tour on this wonderful addition to the World Golf Hall of Fame. It demonstrates that the golf community is stronger when we work together to celebrate the game’s history."
Best-selling author Pete McDaniel served as the lead writer on the project. McDaniel is the author of the acclaimed book "Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African Americans in Golf" and co-wrote and co-produced the documentary "Uneven Fairways." He is a member of both the African American Golfers Hall of Fame and National Black Golf Hall of Fame.
Chiodo, renowned for his compelling sculptures based on history and social justice, created the centerpiece sculpture. Chiodo has designed monuments throughout the United States, including the Harriet Tubman/Thomas Garrett Memorial in Wilmington, Del., the Contrabands Freedman's Memorial in Alexandria, Va., and "Remember Them: Champions for Humanity" in Oakland, Calif., the largest human rights monument in the Western United States.
"It is an honor to open this unique exhibition, which is both part of the Hall of Fame's ongoing mission to preserve the history of golf and a celebration of what can be accomplished with force of will and a love of the game,” said Jack Peter, Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. "We would like to thank the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the USGA, as well as Pete McDaniel, Mario Chiodo and the African-Americans in the game who worked tirelessly to help create this exhibition."