Sifford in 1961
|Full name||Charles Luther Sifford|
June 2, 1922|
Charlotte, North Carolina
February 3, 2015 (aged 92)|
|Number of wins by tour|
|PGA Tour Champions||1|
|Best results in major championships|
|U.S. Open||T21: 1972|
|The Open Championship||DNP|
|PGA Championship||T33: 1965|
|Achievements and awards|
|World Golf Hall of Fame||2004 (member page)|
|Old Tom Morris Award||2007|
Charles Luther Sifford (June 2, 1922 – February 3, 2015) was a professional golfer who was the first African American to play on the PGA Tour. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He also won the United Golf Association's National Negro Open six times, and the PGA Seniors' Championship in 1975.
For his contributions to golf, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He was awarded the Old Tom Morris Award in 2007, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, and an honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews. Lee Trevino referred to Sifford as the "Jackie Robinson" of golf, and Tiger Woods acknowledged that Sifford paved the way for his career.
Early life and career
Sifford was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1922. He began work as a caddy at the age of thirteen. He moved to Philadelphia when he was 17 years old, where he played against local black golfers.
Sifford began golfing professionally in 1948. He competed in the golf tournaments that black golfers organized for themselves as they were excluded from the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA). Sifford won the United Golf Association's National Negro Open six times, including consecutive wins from 1952 through 1956. Sifford later worked as a valet and golf instructor to the singer Billy Eckstine, who also financially supported his career when he was unable to find sponsorship.
Sifford first attempted to qualify for a PGA Tour event at the 1952 Phoenix Open, using an invitation obtained by former World heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. Sifford was subjected to threats and racial abuse there and at other tournaments.
In 1957, Sifford won the Long Beach Open, which was not an official PGA Tour event, but was co-sponsored by the PGA and had some well-known white players in the field. Sifford competed in the U. S. Open in 1959 for the first time, and tied for 32nd place. He became a member of the Tour in 1961, thus becoming the first African-American to join the PGA Tour. He went on to win two official money events, the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open, and finished in the top 60 in overall winnings in his first nine years as a member of the PGA Tour. He also won the 1963 Puerto Rico Open and at the 1971 Sea Pines. He tied for 21st place at the 1972 U.S. Open, his best finish in a major tournament. He competed in the PGA Seniors' Championship, then the leading tournament for golfers over fifty, winning the event in 1975.
Sifford's wife, Rose, died in 1998. They had two sons, Charles Jr. and Craig.
In July 2015, Craig Sifford and his wife, Sandra, were indicted and accused of spending more than a million dollars of Charlie Sifford's money. A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted them with three counts of theft, one count of money laundering, and one count of unauthorized use of property. Sandra Sifford is also facing an additional charge of receiving stolen property.
Lee Trevino said of Sifford, "You have to put him in the Jackie Robinson category". Tiger Woods referred to Sifford as "the Grandpa I never had," and that, without Sifford, "I probably wouldn't be here. My dad would have never have picked up the game. Who knows if the clause would still exist or not? But he broke it down".
In 2004, Sifford became the first African American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He chose Hall of Fame member South African Gary Player to present him for induction. On June 22, 2006, he received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews as a Doctor of Laws. He also received the 2007 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), the GCSAA's highest honor.
In 2009, the Northern Trust Open created an exemption for a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf; it is named in honor of Sifford and is referred to as the Charlie Sifford Exemption.
In 2011, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation changed the name of Revolution Park Golf Course to Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park.
PGA Tour wins
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of
|1||Aug 20, 1967||Greater Hartford Open Invitational||−12 (69-70-69-64=272)||1 stroke||Steve Oppermann|
|2||Jan12, 1969||Los Angeles Open||−8 (63-71-71-71=276)||Playoff||Harold Henning|
PGA Tour playoff record (1–0)
|1||1969||Los Angeles Open||Harold Henning||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
Other wins (12)
- 1952 UGA National Negro Open
- 1953 UGA National Negro Open
- 1954 UGA National Negro Open
- 1955 UGA National Negro Open
- 1956 UGA National Negro Open, Rhode Island Open
- 1957 Long Beach Open
- 1960 UGA National Negro Open, Almaden Open (unofficial win – one year prior to becoming a PGA Tour event)
- 1963 Puerto Rico Open
- 1971 Sea Pines
- 1975 Northern Ohio PGA Championship
Senior PGA Tour wins (1)
|No.||Date||Tournament||Winning score||Margin of victory||Runner-up|
|1||Nov 16, 1980||Suntree Classic||−9 (70-71-71-67=279)||4 strokes||Don January|
Other senior wins (7)
- 1975 PGA Seniors' Championship – (5 years prior to becoming a Champions Tour event; event is now a Champions Tour major)
- 1988 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Legendary Division (with Roberto DeVicenzo)
- 1989 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Legendary Division (with Roberto DeVicenzo)
- 1991 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Legendary Division (with Roberto DeVicenzo)
- 1998 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Joe Jimenez)
- 1999 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Joe Jimenez)
- 2000 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf – Demaret Division (with Joe Jimenez)
Results in major championships
DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Yellow background for top-10
- Goldstein, Richard (February 4, 2015). "Charlie Sifford, Who Shattered a Barrier of Race in Golf, Dies at 92". The New York Times.
- Corcoran, Tully (June 6, 2014). "Charlie Sifford stayed the course". Fox Sports. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Chappell, Bill (February 4, 2015). "From Caddy To Pro: Golfer Charlie Sifford Dies At 92". NPR. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Crowl, Jonathan (November 26, 2014). "Charlie Sifford, Who Broke PGA's Color Barrier, Gets Presidential Honor". The Post Game. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Strubberg, Jay (February 4, 2015). "Charlie Sifford, first black golfer on PGA tour, dies at 92". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Ginell 2015, p. 166.
- Ballengee, Ryan (February 4, 2015). "Golf pioneer Charlie Sifford dead at 92". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Glenn, Rhonda (February 7, 2012). "A Hard Road to Golf Glory". USGA. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014.
- Rhoden, William C. (November 25, 2014). "A Pioneer's Tribute Is Both a Reward and a Reminder: Charlie Sifford Is Given the Presidential Medal of Freedom". The New York Times.
- Almasy, Steve (February 6, 2015). "Charlie Sifford, who broke golf's color barrier, dies at 92". CNN.
- Dwyre, Bill (November 24, 2014). "President Obama recognizes golf pioneer Charlie Sifford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- "Golf pioneer Charlie Sifford dies". ESPN. February 4, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
- "Family Members Indicted for Financial Exploitation of Late Golf Legend Charles Sifford". Ohio Attorney General. July 28, 2015.
- Dufresne, Chris (February 4, 2015). "Tiger Woods reacts to death of golf pioneer Charlie Sifford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- "Sifford set to break another barrier: World Golf Hall of Fame will welcome first black member". MSNBC. Associated Press. November 13, 2004. Archived from the original on November 14, 2004.
- "Charlie Sifford passes away at 92". Fox News. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Evans, Farrell (November 12, 2014). "Sifford's legacy honored by a nation". ESPN. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- "Sifford Exemption 'out of this world'". ESPN. Associated Press. February 2, 2009.
- "Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park". Archived from the original on February 3, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
- "President Obama Announces the Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". The White House. November 10, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
- Ginell, Cary (2013). Mr. B: The Music & Life of Billy Eckstine. Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-1-45841-980-4.
- Britt, Grant (1998). Charlie Sifford. Great Athletes. Morgan Reynolds. ISBN 978-1883846275.
- Sifford, Charlie (1992). Just Let Me Play: The Story of Charlie Sifford, the First Black PGA Golfer. British Amer Pub Ltd. ISBN 978-0945167440.
- Sounes, Howard (2004). The Wicked Game: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and the Story of Modern Golf. William Morrow. ISBN 0-06-051386-1.