March 10th, 2014 by The Editorial Team
Written by Patrick MacFarlane
Imagine stepping onto the grass at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, walking out of the same dugout Jackie Robinson did when he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. If you’re a golfer, you can do the equivalent at 3 historic golf courses – all operated by American Golf.
Chester Washington Golf Course
Located just south of Los Angeles, Chester Washington was the chosen course of black golfers during the time when African American golfers were breaking barriers in the USGA and on PGA Tour events. Among those known to frequent the course—then known as Western Avenue Golf Course—were Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, Calvin Peete, and Joe Louis.
Stifford was the first African American to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame; Elder was the first African American to play in The Masters; Peete won 12 times on the PGA Tour; and Louis—a heavyweight champion known to many as ‘The Brown Bomber,’ was the first African American to play in a PGA Tour event and was instrumental in founding The First Tee, which his son now runs.
Alfred “Tup” Holmes Golf Course
Formally known as Adams Park, Alfred “Tup” Holmes Golf Course was named after a golfer who challenged the City of Atlanta all the way to the US Supreme Court. With the help of an up-and-coming NAACP attorney by the name of Thurgood Marshall, Holmes was instrumental in ending the segregation of Atlanta public golf courses in 1955.
North Fulton Golf Course
On December 24, 1955, Alfred “Tup” Holmes, along with his brother Oliver and 5 other African American men, played the first desegregated round in Atlanta on the North Fulton Golf Course. The men walked the course and played as a threesome and a twosome and Holmes carded a very respectable 79 on that historic Christmas Eve morning.
Breakthroughs in sports and entertainment can often precede major cultural change, and these stories represent some major barriers that were broken in sports during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, leading up to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and 70s. American Golf is proud to be a part of this history and in preserving these historic sites, and part of its mission is to grow the game of golf in and around the communities surrounding these golf courses.