Charlie Sifford's Perseverance Paved the Way for Black Golfers

Categories: Life Skills

Charlie Sifford

Decades before Tiger Woods was breaking records on the golf course, Charlie Sifford was breaking barriers. The First Tee joins the country in celebrating Black History Month by highlighting Sifford’s story of perseverance, leadership and integrity.


Charlie Sifford 2While his story begins as a caddie in North Carolina, by age 13 Sifford was shooting par golf. From 1952 to 1956 he won the National Negro Open five straight times–all while pushing golf’s color boundaries. In 1960, Sifford became the first African-American player to receive a PGA Player card opening the game to for the first time to non-Caucasians. Being 39 years old, many thought Sifford’s best days of golf were behind him.

This week, the Northern Trust Open (formerly the L.A. Open) is taking place in Pacific Palisades, Calif., a significant tournament that Sifford went on to win in 1969 at the age of 46.

At The First Tee, we believe golf is a game for everyone, regardless of race, gender or age. Sifford’s determination blazed the trail for today’s black junior golfers. Though many will never meet Charlie Sifford, we all benefit from his strength, dignity and refusal to quit.

Charlie Sifford 3In 2004, he was recognized for his monumental accomplishments and inducted into the Lifetime Achievement category in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Another first for African-Americans.

2 responses to “Charlie Sifford's Perseverance Paved the Way for Black Golfers

  1. Charlie Sifford is a golf hero and his story pushed me to win my club championship in 2012 for the saturydaygolfnuts in Sacramento after reading his book just let me play. I thank you for recognizing Mr sifford.

  2. Mr. Sifford,

    I met you in 2005 when you were the key note speaker at The First Tee Network Dinner Meeting. I was the youth participant speaker. Following my speech you gave me encouraging words that have remained with me. You also gave me an autographed poster. It prominently hangs in my home.

    By way of a quick update, I finished college with a degree in mechanical engineering, work for GE, and I’ve won a few company golf tournaments.

    Thanks for all you’ve done for the great game of golf and for guys like me.

    Brian Hawkins

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