Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

African American Golfers: Black History in the Sport

African American golfers pioneered the game for many people of color

When it comes to a sport that represents diversity, golf is usually the least on the totem pole, but some African American golfers have contributed to the sport in historical and monumental ways.  When we think of African American golf players, Tiger Woods is usually the first name that comes to mind, but the rich history of black golf players is far more complex than that. We have compiled a list of the most influential black golfers in the sport.

Charlie Sifford

Charlie Sifford made a permanent mark in history as one of the first African American golfers to play on the PGA TOUR.  In 1967 he became the first African-American golfer to win a PGA TOUR event at the greater Hartford Open. During this time Sifford took home a whopping $20,000 of prize winnings and finished seven underpar for an impressive -7, 64.

Theodore Ted Rhodes

Theodore Ted Rhodes recognized as one of the first African American golfers to ever get into the sport. He is revered as the first African American golfer to play professionally when he was invited to the U.S. Open at the Riviera Country. Rhodes was exceptional at the game and eve won around 150 United Golfers Association tournaments.  

Althea Gibson

Not only did Althea surpass racial barriers in the game of golf, but she also broke down gender barriers with her important contributions to the game. In 1963, Althea Gibson became the first black golfer to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Gibson would go on to play around 171 events between 1963 and 1977, and although her true talents were reflected in tennis, her contributions to the game of golf were undeniable.

Calvin Peete

When it comes to success in golf, it is impossible to not mention Calvin Peete. Peete oozed with pure golf talent and ultimately became one of the most successful African American golfers in history. Peete was self-taught but was known for having one of the best driving accuracies. He qualified for the PGA TOUR in 1975 and won more money and PGA events than any other golfers in the tournament. He won a total of 12 PGA events.

As of now golf has more work to do to in terms of making the sport more reflective of the world we live in. As of now, 77 percent of American golfers are male and a whopping 80 percent are white. These stats continue to improve, but there is still a lot of work to be done.