Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

Charles Sifford: A Charlotte Born African American Golfer

A Charlotte born influential African American golfer.

This Black History Month story was shared with us by our V101.9 listener Nancy who is Charles Sifford's niece.

Charles Sifford (1922-2015) was an African-American championship golfer who was instrumental in desegregating the PGA. Born on June 2, 1922, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charles Sifford developed a passion for golf, going on to win multiple Negro Open championships and challenging the Professional Golf Association's whites-only rule. Sifford succeeded in desegregating the organization despite harassment and death threats and was a contender in subsequent PGA tours.

In 1957, Sifford made history when he not only qualified for the Long Beach Open but won it, making him the first the African-American golfer to beat white players in a PGA co-sponsored tournament. Several years later in 1967, Sifford made history again after he won the Greater Hartford Open; making it the first fully sanctioned PGA event ever won by an African American.

Sifford competed in a total of 422 PGA tournaments. Sifford helped pave the way for future African-American golfers including Lee Elder, Tiger Woods and Calvin Peete. Sifford's autobiography, Just Let Me Play, was published in 1992. In 2014, President Obama presented the trailblazing athlete with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

Sifford passed away on February 3, 2015, at the age of 92. We thank him for this influence on the Black community and in Charlotte.