The United States Golf Association and the PGA of America announced a joint partnership to honor the history, documents and artifacts of African-Americans in golf. The two organizations released a joint statement this week:
In recognition of the numerous contributions that African Americans have made to golf over more than a century, the United States Golf Association and The PGA of America have agreed to create a centralized repository for artifacts and documents related to the history of African Americans in golf, to be located at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J.
The USGA Museum will serve as the organization charged with collecting, documenting and preserving the artifacts, memorabilia and documents related to the rich history of African-American golf.
The PGA of America will be charged with creating public exhibitions and programs to present this history to diverse audiences, through the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and at spectator events conducted by the USGA and The PGA.
A 14-member task force has been established to assist in the collection of the appropriate artifacts, memorabilia and documents. (See list of task force members below.)
"It is important that our two organizations undertake the initiative to preserve the stories of African Americans in golf now and not run the risk of those stories potentially being lost," said David Fay, USGA executive director. "This is an important project for golf's history, as well as the future of our game."
Fay said that the preservation and celebration of the history of African Americans in golf is "well suited" to the USGA Museum and the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History, which opened in June 2008.
"The USGA Museum is the world's leading facility for the study and education of golf history," Fay said, "with the resources to document, archive, and care for a wide range of historic artifacts and materials."
PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Joe Steranka said the new USGA-PGA alliance will help golfers in the 21st century learn about the many hardships that black golfers were forced to endure throughout much of the 1900s.
"There are so many phenomenal stories of perseverance, persistence and faith that we will be able to convey to a large-scale audience," said Steranka. "The time is right to begin this project. We are excited about the task force members who have agreed to assist us and we look forward to working with those African-American golf pioneers and their family members, to preserve and celebrate a period of time in golf history that must not be forgotten."
Both Fay and Steranka said that each organization is committed to allocating both the staff and the financial resources that will be required for this important initiative.
In November 2009, The PGA of America bestowed posthumous membership on three African-American golf pioneers — John Shippen, Bill Spiller and Ted Rhodes — who were denied membership in the Association because of the PGA's "Caucasian-only" clause that was part of its bylaws from 1934 to 1961. The PGA also bestowed posthumous honorary membership on the legendary boxing champion, Joe Louis, for his advocacy for the rights of African-American golfers.
Those four individuals, plus other notable contributors, are honored in a new African-American golf pioneers display at the PGA Historical Center.
The members of the USGA-PGA African-American golf history task force are:
Debert Cook, New York, N.Y. – Publisher, African-American Golfer's Digest
Kelly Elbin, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – Director of Communications and Publications, The PGA of America
Earnie Ellison, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. – Director of Business and Community Relations, The PGA of America
Rhonda Glenn, Summerfield, Fla. – Manager of Communications, United States Golf Association
Rose Harper, Washington, D.C. – Entrepreneur, philanthropist, lecturer, adjunct professor, author, global events planner, contributing writer to golf publications, subject matter expert in the business of the golf industry.
Lawrence D. Hogan, Ph.D., Fanwood, N.J. – Senior Professor of History, Union County College; recognized nationally for his research and publications on the history of African Americans in sports
Rand Jerris, Ph.D., Far Hills, N.J. – Managing Director of Communications and USGA Museum, United States Golf Association.
M. Mikell Johnson, Ph.D., Florence, S.C. – Author of "The African American Woman Golfer: Her Legacy."
Dr. Larry Londino, West Orange, N.J. – Professor and Chair, Department of Broadcasting, Montclair State University; researched, produced and directed a public broadcasting documentary "A Place For Us," which traced the history of the Shady Rest Golf and Country Club in Scotch Plains, N.J., the first African-American golf and country club established in 1921.
Pete McDaniel, Conyers, Ga. – A senior writer for Golf Digest since 1997, McDaniel is the author of "Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African-Americans in Golf;" co-author of the best-selling book "Training a Tiger;" and the 2009 Golf Channel documentary "Uneven Fairways," featuring the pioneering efforts of African-American golfers.
Ramona Merriwether-Harriet, Portsmouth, Va. – Producer/director of the traveling exhibition "Epochs of Courage: African Americans in Golf;" author of "A Missing Link in History: The Journey of African Americans in Golf" and "African American Golf History Activity Book."
Renee Powell, East Canton, Ohio – A PGA and LPGA Professional, Powell was the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf; the second African-American woman to compete on the LPGA Tour (1967-1980); and a worldwide ambassador for building diversity in the game.
Jeffrey Sammons, Ph.D., New York, N.Y. – Department of History, New York University. Historian of American sport and society; member of USGA Museum Committee; member of editorial board of Sport and Social Issues; has written extensively on sport and race, consulted on and appeared in numerous documentaries on sport, and is currently developing multiple historical projects on African Americans and golf.
Dr. Calvin Sinnette, Alexandria, Va. – Author of "Forbidden Fairways: African-Americans and the Game of Golf;" professor emeritus of pediatrics at Howard University College of Medicine and credited with more than 20 medical publications.