Rogers Park, Tampa

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For the park in Odessa, Florida (northwest of Tampa), see Lake Rogers Park

Rogers Park is a historic 18-hole golf course in Tampa, Florida. Land for the park was acquired by the City of Tampa in 1947 and was used for picnics and games by black residents during the era of racial segregation in the United States. Construction of the course was led by Willie Black and began in 1948 on part of the Rogers Park complex. It was completed in 1952. Rogers Park was the only course available to Tampa's black residents.[1]

Located along the Hillsborough River, Rogers Park is spread across 160 acres.[2] The park was created in 1952 by Tampa businessman and philanthropist Garfield Devoe Rogers (G. D. Rogers) for whom it is named.[3] Tampa Mayor Curtis Hixon gave permission to a group of caddies from Palma Ceia Country Club to build a nine-hole golf course at the site and the first Head Golf Professional, Willie Black, worked with volunteers clear trees and landscape. In 1976 the City of Tampa turned over management rights to the then-newly formed Tampa Sports Authority and a $400,000 renovation project with an expansion and new irrigation system was implemented. In 2000 an additional renovation replaced the irrigation system, rebuilt the greens to USGA specifications, and reshaped parts of the course. In 2001 a maintenance favility was added and in 2002 a clubhouse was built.[4]

African-American golfers who played the course included Jimmy Taylor (golfer), Charles Owens, Ted Rhodes, Gordon Chavis, Charlie Sifford, Dick Thomas (golfer) and Cliff Harrington. In 1963 Taylor helped establish the Mid Winter Classic as part of the United Golfers Association, established in 1925 and commonly referred to as "The Chitlin Circuit". The competition is believed to have lasted until the late '70s or early '80s before being revived in 2010.[5]

Willie Black[edit]

Willie Black was an African American golf caddy, golfer, and the first Head Golf Professional at Rogers Park, Tampa, a course he constructed with volunteers to serve African-Americans in Tampa, Florida during racial segregation.[6] Rogers Park is located at 7911 Willie Black Drive.[7] He was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame.[6]

Caddies from all over Tampa heard about Willie Black’s course, the second in Florida to permit African-Americans after one was created in Miami Springs.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Willie Black's Dream; Rogers Park September 2010 USGA
  2. ^ Rogers Park website
  3. ^ Historical monument trail honorees April 2013 Seminole Heights Patch
  4. ^ History Rogers Park Golf Course website
  5. ^ Rodney Page Rogers Park was golf haven for African-Americans February 23, 2011 Tampa Bay Times
  6. ^ a b c Rhonda Glenn Willie Black's Dream: Rogers Park September 7, 2010 USGA
  7. ^ [1]

Coordinates: 28°01′20″N 82°25′25″W / 28.02222°N 82.42361°W / 28.02222; -82.42361