This Week at TravelGolf.com: Feb. 28, 2006
Assessing the progress of golf
as black history month ends
As black history month winds to a close, golf both celebrates its civil rights history and sees a present where the fight goes on.
Jan. 19 marked 45 years since the PGA removed its whites-only clause, though Ted and Rhodes and Bill Spiller are credited as being the first African-American golfers to play, at the 1948 Los Angeles Open, according to the African American Registry.
Still, parts of the U.S. have shown a historical tendency to be slow to adapt to current civil rights standards. After all it was only 1975 that Lee Elder became the first African-American to play in the Masters. And there are still private golf clubs throughout the U.S. that run under the philosophy of "whites only."
And while the world of golf is continuing to work to be more color blind, there is another interesting phenomenon going on it the world of professional golf: African-Americans are just not involved.
If you look at a roster of PGA Tour pros, you'll see Tiger Woods (whose mother is Thai) at the top of the list and nary an African-American after. The same goes for the LPGA Tour, though its ranks have been swelled with Asian players.
What's interesting about this development is that back about 30 years ago, there were several African-American golfers making a living on tour, guys like Jim Dent, Calvin Peete, Curtis Sifford, Nathaniel Starks, Jim Thorpe and Charlie Sifford to name a few.
Still, this trend doesn't seem to be one that should be blamed on the pro tours, especially if taken into account the creation of The First Tee in 1997, a golf-theme educational program that now is involved with 500,000 kids of all backgrounds.
Golf is an interesting racial barometer that rarely reflects the overall cultural norms. But pro golf and the overwhelming majority of golf courses do a good job making the game accessible. It seems clear that all cultures are readily accepted on the PGA Tour.
So while the golf industry should be commended on its work, it should also look back and remember names like Rhodes, Spiller, Elder and Sifford for the enthusiasm it needs to continue to make golf as color blind as possible.
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When Donald Trump saw the TravelGolf.com list of the Top-10 golf courses in Southern California, he called up to ask why his Trump National L.A. isn't on the list. After an up-close look, West Coast Bureau Chief Chris Baldwin believes Trump's spectacular course is a contender for Top-10 status in 2007, though not necessarily a shoe-in. Still, Trump National is a unique, theatrical course built to stun, and is a course the majority of golfers in California won't want to miss.
Also: When The Donald calls to let you know he doesn't love your opinion
Gary Gilchrist worked with Michelle Wie at the IMG/David Leadbetter Golf Academy from 2002 to 2004. During that time he became her coach, mentor, friend and "a member of the family," Jennifer Mario writes in her latest "A Girl's-Eye View" column. Years of lessons, weeks on the road, hours in the car and lots of pressure at tournaments gave Gilchrist a pretty good idea of what Michelle is made of.
Blog: What does the Fields Open say about the World Golf Rankings?
Down in Sarasota, Fla., Longboat Key Club's Harbourside Course is different from the club's Islandside Course. And if you've gotten to play this somewhat exclusive course, you'll see it's different from many other courses, as well. The modern feel of the layout will impress you, but the level of play will keep you challenged. Harbourside is no normal, take-it-easy resort course but those who play it aren't scared away by its toughness, and keep coming back for more.
Also: From Sawgrass to Copperhead, here are Florida's top 10