Honoring pioneers

The PGA of America and USGA are celebrating the history of African-American golf pioneers through a special exhibit in the CNN Center Atrium. The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 31, is free and open to the public.


The 18-foot-wide by 10-foot-high exhibit chronicles the accomplishments of African-Americans, both nationally and in the Metropolitan Atlanta community. (The PGA of America)

ATLANTA, Ga. – In conjunction with the playing of the 93rd PGA Championship in Johns Creek, Ga., The PGA of America and the United States Golf Association are celebrating the extraordinary history of African-American golf pioneers through a special exhibit in the CNN Center Atrium, in Atlanta.  The exhibit will be open to the public free of charge from Aug. 1-Aug. 31.

The 18-foot-wide by 10-foot-high exhibit chronicles the accomplishments of African-Americans, both nationally and in the Metropolitan Atlanta community. It highlights individuals including John Shippen, who is believed to be the first American-born professional golfer; Bill Powell, the only African-American to design, build, own and operate a golf course; boxing legend Joe Louis, who became the first African-American to play in a PGA Tour event; Jeff Dunovant, PGA director of instruction at The First Tee at East Lake, and with his father Harold, the only African-American father-son combination of PGA members; and PGA Professional William Lewis, the men’s golf coach at Morehouse College.

The exhibit also includes video tributes to African-American golf pioneers, as well as a golf club used by Ted Rhodes, one of the standout performers of the United Golfers Association, which conducted tournaments for black golfers for decades in the 1900s.

A recent alliance between The PGA and the USGA is intended to preserve and further the history of African-American golf, and this exhibit is the first-ever produced from this partnership.

“Across the game of golf, we are dedicated to showcasing the storied history of African-Americans in golf and the paths to equal rights they blazed along the way,” said Allen Wronowski, president, The PGA of America. “We are proud to partner with the USGA in bringing the citizens of Atlanta an exhibit that pays tribute to the significant and heroic contributions made by individuals to build avenues of diversity in the game.”

The exhibit traces historic achievements from Shippen being the first African-American to play in a U.S. Open (1896) to Lee Elder becoming the first black golfer in the Masters (1975) to Tiger Woods becoming the first African-American to win a major golf championship, at the 1997 Masters, as well as the first to win the PGA Championship, in 1999.

“The timing and placement of this exhibit are sure to help increase understanding and appreciation for the role of the pioneering African-American men and women in golf,” said USGA President Jim Hyler. “We salute their courageous efforts and celebrate this showcase of their love for the game, against all odds and obstacles.” 

The 93rd PGA Championship will be contested at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga., Aug. 8-14. This marks the third time that “The Season’s Final Major” will be played on the Highlands Course at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Marietta, Ga.,-native Larry Nelson captured the 1981 PGA Championship, and David Toms prevailed in 2001.

Martin Kaymer of Germany is the defending champion.

About The PGA of America:
Celebrating its 95th year, The PGA of America has maintained a two-fold mission of its founders: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.

By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in a multi-billion dollar golf industry.

By creating and delivering dramatic world-class championships and exciting and enjoyable promotions that are viewed as the best of their class in the golf industry, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. The PGA of America brand represents the very best in golf.

About the USGA:
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, equipment standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico.

The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries. For more information about the USGA, visit

About the PGA Championship
Since 1916, golf’s premier professionals have been competing for the PGA Championship’s Wanamaker Trophy. Past Champions span the greatest names of golf over 90 years, including: Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson.

The PGA Championship is one of the premier golf events conducted by The PGA of America, a list that includes the Ryder Cup, the Senior PGA Championship and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which brings together winners of golf’s four major championships.