PGA approves participation of Black golfers


On January 19, 1952, Professional Golfers Association president Horton Smith announces that a seven-man committee “almost unanimously” votes to allow Black golfers to compete in PGA co-sponsored events. With the announcement, Smith hopes that Black golfers participate in the next two events, the Phoenix Open and Tucson Open. “I shall feel our efforts here will have gone for little if the plan doesn’t work out the next two events,” he says.

The push for inclusion into a sport dominated by whites came after pressure from former boxing champion Joe Louis, a talented amateur golfer. At the San Diego Open on January 17, 1952, Louis competed in the PGA-sanctioned event as an invited amateur. (As an amateur golfer, Louis wasn’t governed by PGA rules.) But professional Bill Spiller, a Black golfer, was denied entry in the tournament.


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