Golfers from across the country hit the greens in Charlotte in memory of trailblazing athlete

CHARLOTTE — Student-athletes from six historically Black colleges and universities competed in Charlotte Monday at the inaugural Charlie Sifford Centennial Cup.

Golfers from across the country hit the greens at Quail Hollow Club in south Charlotte in memory of Charlie Sifford, who paved the way for others.

Sifford, born in Charlotte, fell in love with golf when caddying as a child. When he started playing full-time in the late 1940s, Black golfers weren’t allowed into the PGA membership -- there was a “Caucasian-only” rule until 1961.

Sifford played an instrumental role in getting the PGA to abolish the rule.

Decades later, the Johnson C. Smith University golf team is now hosting the players for the Charlie Sifford Centennial Cup, in memory of what would have been Sifford’s 100th birthday this year.

“Charlie Sifford couldn’t play on this course,” William Watkins, the JCSU men’s head golf coach. “They’re actually living what I would say (is) his dream about inclusion. And to be on this course and in this environment is just tremendous.”

Each school received $25,000 from the PGA.

Patrick Jean Pierre, a senior at Florida A&M University, said they money will help future scholarships and travel expenses.

“Most of the HBCU schools don’t have a big budget,” Pierre said. “That’s big for us.”

From a round of golf to a history lesson on the green, players like Ronald Otile from Livingstone College in Salisbury said there’s a lot to learn from a man like Sifford.

“We just look forward to keeping up the legacy,” Otile said.

Sifford was the first Black golfer to hold a PGA tour card and be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

The tournament was aimed to mirror the President’s Cup competition at Quail Hollow, which starts Sept. 20.

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