The most influential man in golf history: Charlie Sifford.

But you’ve probably never heard of him…

Tiger Woods calls him “the Grandpa I never had” and even named his son after him.

The incredible story of Dr. Charles Sifford 🧵
1/ At 13, Charlie Sifford got a job caddying at a local course making 60 cents a day.

“50 cents went to my mom and I kept the other 10 to buy stogies.”

This became his signature look: Image
2/ With the club closed Mondays, Charlie convinced the owners to let him use the course that day.

Other days he’d sneak on before it opened to practice even more.

Within a year, 13-year-old Charlie Sifford became a scratch golfer. Image
3/ At 17 Charlie moved to Philly to compete against other Black golfers — the year was 1939.

World War 2 got in the way.

Charlie served in the Pacific, including the Battle of Okinawa.

He was always quiet about the War and his role.
4/ Returning to the US, Charlie got back into golf.

It helped him cope.

“I always did want to be a pro. But the pro tour wasn’t open to African-Americans then.”

Instead of the PGA, Charlie joined the United Golf Association tour.

He dominated:
5/ Charlie won the Negro National Open an astonishing 5 straight times from 1952-1956.

The whole time, he wanted to qualify for the PGA. Image
6/ Using an invitation from world heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis, Charlie entered the PGA’s ‘52 Phoenix Open.

There and at other PGA events, Charlie was threatened and racially abused.

In ‘57 he broke through, winning the Long Beach Open which was co-sponsored by the PGA.
7/ In 1961 the PGA dropped its “Caucasian only” rule.

Charlie, along with Lee Elder, Joe Louis, and Jackie Robinson, had been fighting for this for a decade.

14 years after Jackie broke the MLB color barrier, Charlie became the first Black member of the PGA Tour.
8/ Despite joining the PGA at the age of 40, Charlie won 2 tournaments.

• ‘67 Greater Hartford Open
• ‘69 LA Open

My guess?

If he’s allowed in earlier, that number is much higher than 2. Image
9/ In later life, Charlie earned an amazing list of honors.

• 1st Black man introduced into the World Golf Hall of Fame

• Honorary Doctorate from the University of Saint Andrews

• The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award Image
10/ The Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption is given to 1 Black golfer each year.

The 2021 winner, Willie Mack, said:

“It’s special I’ll play in my first PGA event because of an exemption named after Charlie Sifford, a person I’ve long admired.”
11/ Dr. Charles Sifford passed away at the age of 92 in 2015.

Here’s how golf legends remember him:

• “We honor a man for the course he chose in life.” — Gary Player

“One of the most courageous men to ever play this sport.” — Tiger Woods Image
12/ In Charlotte, NC, Charlie’s hometown, the most popular public course in the city is his namesake — The Dr. Charles Sifford Memorial Course.

99 years since his birth, a course that would not let Charlie play now bears his name. Image
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