Book of the week: Scratching the surface of discrimination

Forbidden Fairways: African Americans and the Game of Golf

(Sleeping Bear Press, $24.95) By Calvin H Sinnette

WHEN TIGER WOODS won the US Masters last year, the roof of the Augusta National clubhouse almost blew off. "I've never seen as much excitement as we had in the clubhouse," said the then chairman, Jackson Stephens. "When he made the putt on 18, the clubhouse exploded."

Woods had set records galore, but not lost among all the statistics was the fact that Woods was the first black player to win the event. His victory came 22 years after Lee Elder became the first black golfer to play in the Masters and seven years after Augusta admitted their first black member.

"That's why this victory is even more special," Woods, who later described himself as a "Cablinasian" to represent his mix of cultures, said. "Seeing Lee Elder before I played meant a lot. I looked up to him and Charlie Sifford and because of them I am able to live my dream."

Little over a generation before, Woods would not have been able to do so. When Sifford was leading the Canadian Open after two rounds in 1962, officials from Augusta sent word that that year's winner of the event would not be invited to the following year's Masters. Clifford Roberts, the long-serving chairman, once said that "a black man would never play at Augusta as long as he had something to do with it and that the only way a black man was going to get on Augusta was as a caddie or a clubhouse porter."

None of this is addressed in Calvin Sinnette's book Forbidden Fairways. The background to the removal of the infamous "Caucasian rule" in the PGA's statutes in 1961 is covered, however sketchily. Tournaments were redesignated "Open Invitationals" to prevent players such as Bill Spiller, Ted Rhodes and Sifford from being able to play.

At the San Diego Open in 1952, Joe Louis, the former world heavyweight champion, was allowed to play, but other black players were not. From then on, non-PGA members were allowed to play in tournaments if they received a sponsor's invitation. At the next event in Phoenix, Louis, Rhodes, Sifford and Eural Clark were sent out in the first group of the qualifying round and on the first green "were greeted by the revolting sight and smell of human excrement that someone had surreptitiously placed in the cup".

This is far from the definitive record of an interesting and important subject in a sport which cherishes honour and integrity but has a history of appalling discrimination, whether racial, sexual or ageist. But Sinnette does provide a gentle ramble through the lives of some golfers whose fame would be greater but for the colour of their skin.

Among those recounted are John Shippen, who might have won the second US Open in 1896 but for an 11 at the 13th hole when he was leading in the final round, and George Grant, who invented and patented the first wooden tee in 1899, but failed to exploit the idea commercially.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game