Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club
Shoal Creek Club, located in Shelby County, southeast of the Birmingham metro area, is an invitation-only private golf club which opened in 1977. The course was designed by professional golfer Jack Nicklaus and is rated as the top golf course in the state. In fact, Shoal Creek has consistently listed as one of America's top courses, most recently being ranked #50 in Golf Digest and #70 in Golf Week.
Shoal Creek has played host to numerous PGA, USGA, and NCAA events, including many tour championships like the PGA Championship in 1984 and 1990, the 1986 U.S. Amateur, and the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur. Since 2011, it has hosted the Regions Tradition, a senior major. It will host the U.S. Women's Open in 2018.
In addition, the course has been the site of USGA qualifiers for the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur as well as the Southern Golf Association Championship. Other tournaments hosted there include the 1978 Southeastern Conference Championship, the 1992–96 Jerry Pate Intercollegiate Tournament, the 1992 Women's Alabama Golf Association Junior Championship, the 2001 Birmingham Golf Association Junior Championship, and its own Shoal Creek Senior Invitational since 1998.
Up until 1990, Shoal Creek had no African-American members. A firestorm began when club founder Hall Thompson commented that the club would not be pressured to accept African-American members, stating "this is our home, and we pick and choose who we want." These comments, made prior to the 1990 PGA Championship, made the tournament front-page news as civil rights groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference threatened to protest the event and sponsors pulled advertising from the tournament. The PGA considered moving the tournament away from Shoal Creek, but in the end reached a compromise with the club: local insurance executive Louis J. Willie was invited by the mayor of Birmingham to become an honorary member with full membership to come after the waiting-list period of any membership application. Willie was also the first black member of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, The Downtown Club and The Club, all civic and social clubs.
This incident forced everyone associated with golf — clubs, the PGA, and the USGA — to look at minority access in the sport. The PGA and USGA changed rules regarding course selection, requiring clubs that hosted events to meet inclusive membership requirements.
In 1994, four years after the 1990 incident, Willie remained the only black member of Shoal Creek. However, in October of that year, sensational young black golfer Tiger Woods won the individual intercollegiate championship by two strokes and led Stanford to team victory in the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate tournament held at Shoal Creek. At this time, Shoal Creek founder Hall Thompson said of Woods, "You're a great player, I'm proud of you. You're superb." Shoal Creek did not host any major golf event until 2008, when the club hosted the U.S. Junior Amateur.
In regards to membership, Shoal Creek has welcomed African-Americans, two women, and Jews as members. In September 2009, Condoleezza Rice, the former United States Secretary of State under President George W. Bush became a full member of Shoal Creek. To date, only two women have been allowed to join. Rice is originally from the Birmingham, Alabama area. In addition to joining Shoal Creek, Rice became a member of Greystone Golf and Country Club. On August 20, 2012, Condoleezza Rice was one of the first two women admitted to Augusta National Golf Club
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- "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses/2007-08". Golf Digest. 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
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- "U.S. Women's Open to be played at Shoal Creek in Alabama in 2018". PGA of America. Associated Press. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
- Bastable, Alan (2008-07-27). "The Return of Shoal Creek - Tours & News". Golf.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- Jaime Diaz, "Golf; Shoal Creek Club Agrees To Begin Admitting Blacks" The New York Times, August 1, 1990. accessed September 14, 2012.
- "Why Louis Willie Climbed Over Racial Barrier -- Birmingham Club's First Black Member Wanted To Defuse Pga Protest" Seattle Times August 1, 1990. accessed September 14, 2012.
- Robert Thomas Jr., "GOLF; Aftermath of Shoal Creek: The Greens Are Still White", The New York Times June 6, 1991. accessed September 14, 2012.
- "Four Years Later, Shoal Creek Same -- Minority Club Members Hard To Find", Seattle Times August 29, 1994. accessed September 14, 2012
- "Woods' Play Makes Point In Black And White", Seattle Times October 26, 1994. accessed September 14, 2012.
- "Shoal Creek wants more championship events". al.com. 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- Thompson, Ian, "Shoal Creek to Host U.S. Junior in 2008", The Birmingham News, January 20, 2006
- Thompson, Ian, "McLendon Pours Heart into Tourney", The Birmingham News, April 9, 2006
- Lieber, Jill, "Golf's Host Clubs Have Open-And-Shut Policies On Discrimination", USA Today, April 9, 2003