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PGA exhibit honors pioneer Black golfers

29th August 2011   ·   0 Comments

(Special to the NNPA from the CrossRoads News) — History buffs and golf aficionados can delve into the history of African-American golf at “Celebrating African-American Golf Pioneers,” an exhibit at the CNN Center Atrium, in Atlanta, through August 31.

The 18-by-10-foot exhibit chronicles the accomplishments of African Americans, both nationally and in the metro Atlanta community in conjunction with the playing of the 93rd PGA Cham­pionship in Johns Creek.

It is hosted by PGA of America and the United States Golf As­sociation and includes video tributes to Black golf pioneers as well as a golf club used by Ted Rhodes, one of the standout performers of the United Golfers Association, which conducted tournaments for Black golfers for decades in the 1900s.

Allen Wronowski, PGA of America’s president, said that across the game of golf, they are dedicated to showcasing the storied history of African Americans in golf and the paths to equal rights they blazed along the way.

“We are proud to partner with the USGA in bringing the citizens of Atlanta an exhibit that pays tribute to the significant and heroic contributions made by individuals to build avenues of diversity in the game,” he said.

The exhibit, which is free to see, spans the achievements of James Shippen, the first African Ameri­can to play in a U.S. Open in 1896; Lee Elder, the first Black golfer in the Masters in 1975; Bill Powell, the only African-Ameri­can to design, build, own and operate a golf course; boxing legend Joe Louis, who became the first African American to play in a PGA Tour event; Tiger Woods, the first African Ameri­can to win a major golf championship, at the 1997 Masters, and the first to win the 1999 PGA Championship.

It also acknowledges PGA pro William Lewis, the men’s golf coach at Morehouse College, and Jeff Dunovant, PGA director of instruction at the First Tee at East Lake, vice president of development of Sydmar Golf Inc., and board chairman/president of the National Black Golf Hall of Fame. Dunovant and his father, the late Harold Dunovant, are the only Black father and son Class A professional members of the PGA of America to date.

Dunovant called the exhibit a powerful tribute that supports the impact of diversity in golf. “It is particularly exciting to see the exhibit honor our contributions as it runs parallel to the 93rd PGA Championship.”

This article originally published in the August 29, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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