Gladys Lee is among a handful of African American LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Class A Members. Lee received her Class A status in June 2012. Founder & CEO of Roaring Lambs Junior Golf Academy, Lee established Roaring Lambs in 1986. In addition to a youth golf and life skills program, Roaring Lambs provides assistance in career choices, college selections, and obtaining college scholarships. Gladys Lee is based in the Dallas, Texas metro area. (Above photo courtesy Gladys Lee, far right)
(1929 - 2012) Carrie Russell earned LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Class A Member status in 1974. Two years later (1976), Russell became the first president of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Northeast Section; she served from 1976 to 1978.
Russell was the first golf coach at Delaware State University; she coached men's golf from 1972 to 1980. She also taught junior golf at Dover Air Force Base golf course and served as a teaching professional at Garrisons Lake (Kent County, Delaware).
Russell obtained a bachelor's degree from Delaware State University and a master's degree from West Chester State University. She was the first African American to receive LPGA Master Life Professional Member status, which is the highest honor for LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Membership.
(1898 - 1973) In 1928, Dewey Brown Sr. became the first African American PGA Member. Three decades later in 1958, Brown became the first African American member of Golf Course Superintendents Association of America; he was a member from 1958 to 1973.
About six years after Brown was elected into The PGA of America, Brown's PGA Member status was withdrawn (1934). Reports surfaced that The PGA of America was unable to discern Brown's ethnicity because of his fair-skinned complexion. The uncertainty of Brown being Caucasian led The PGA of America to withdraw Brown's PGA Member status. In 1965, three years after The PGA of America enforced the deletion of the Caucasian-only clause and more than 25 years after Brown's PGA status was revoked, Dewey Brown Sr. was reinstated as a PGA Member.
Brown started caddying when he was nine years old. At 17 he began pursuing a career in golf, and later became an accomplished golf club maker and professional golfer.
In 1947, Brown purchased Cedar River House and Golf Club (Indian Lake, New York). In 1972, he turned over his nine-hole facility to his son Dewey Jr. who later sold the property about four years later. Dewey Brown Sr. had three sons, Roland, Dewey Jr. and Edward. His firstborn Roland served as a Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
Prior to his death, Dewy Brown Sr. selected his grave plot to be in a cemetery adjacent to Cedar River Golf Club. He died December 22, 1973.
(1922 - 2015) On March 28, 1960 at age 38, Charlie Sifford became the first African American to receive PGA Approved Tournament Player (ATP) status. Even though the PGA granted Sifford ATP status, he was still prohibited from becoming a PGA Member because of the Caucasian-only clause.
In 1962 the Caucasian-only clause was deleted from The PGA of America Bylaws. The abolishment of this racist clause opened doors for African Americans to compete in PGA Tour events; however, it did not open the door for Sifford to play in the Masters Tournament. Sifford played professional golf for almost half a century, but he never received an invitation to play in a Masters Tournament.
In 1964 Charlie Sifford was awarded full PGA Member status. Three years later he captured his first PGA Tour win at the 1967 Greater Hartford Open, and in 1969 he won the Los Angeles Open. He joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1975 and in that same year, he won the Senior PGA Championship.
Sifford turned professional in 1948 at age 26. During his professional career he claimed 21 victories including six Negro National Open championship titles (1952 - 1956 and 1960).
In his later years, Sifford received many honors. In 2004, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and as of 2017 he remains the only African American inductee. In 2006 Sifford received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from University of St. Andrews (Scotland, England); thus, Sifford became the first African American golfer to receive this honor. On May 3, 2011 in Sifford's city of birth, Revolution Park Golf Course in Charlotte, North Carolina was renamed "The Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park". And, in 2014 Dr. Charles Sifford received the Presidential Medal of Freedom award from President Barack Obama.
Charlie Sifford died February 3, 2015. In November of that same year, he was posthumously inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame.
(1927 - 2003) In 1963, Althea Gibson became the first African American LPGA Tour Member. In that same year, she made her first professional golf appearance at the USGA U.S. Women's Open.
Gibson's best finish on the LPGA Tour was in 1970 at the Lem Immke Buick Open where she tied for second after a three-way playoff. Gibson played professional golf through 1978; however, her LPGA Tour Member status officially ended in 1971.
Internationally known for her outstanding tennis career, Gibson won the 1957 and 1958 U.S. Open Tennis Championships, and the Women's Singles at The Championships, Wimbledon.
Gibson graduated from Florida A&M University in 1953. She was a native of Silver, South Carolina.
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