Born on June 2, 1922, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charles Sifford developed a passion for golf, going on to win multiple championships and challenging the Professional Golf Association’s whites-only rule. Sifford succeeded in desegregating the organization no matter the harassment and death threats, and was a contender in the PGA tours. He wrote the 1992 autobiography Let Me Play, he died on February 3, 2015, at age 92.
He was considered the Jackie Robinson of golf, Charlie Sifford broke the game’s stringent color barrier in 1961 by becoming the first black to compete on the PGA tour. His early exposure to golf came while working as a caddie where he earned 60 cents a day.
He was a very quick learner, by the age of 13 he could shoot par. He realized then that he wanted to to play golf as a living.
It took a few years, yet in 1967 Charles Sifford made history again when he won the Greater Hartford Open the first fully sanctioned PGA event that was won by an African American. Two years later he raised another trophy when he took home the top score at the 1969 Los Angeles Open.
Mr. Sifford helped pave the way for future African-American golfers including Lee Elder, the first black to play the Masters in 1975; Calvin Peete, who notched 12 PGA victories, The Players Championship; and Tiger Woods.
Mr. Sifford’s autobiography, Just Let Me Play, was published in 1992. President Obama presented the trailblazing athlete with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.