Sifford Honored in Charlotte

Former Senior PGA Champion Charlie Sifford, the only African-American member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was honored May 3 in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., with the dedication of the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park.

The 88-year-old Sifford recently returned home to Charlotte from his former residence in Kingwood, Texas, to escape the cold weather. Soon after, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation Department approved renaming the Revolution Park golf course in his honor.

Sifford began his long golf career as a caddie in Charlotte. After turning professional at age 17 on the former United Golf Association Tour, he won six Negro National Open titles, and served as golf instructor to singer Billy Eckstine.

For looping 18 holes Sifford got paid only 60 cents. "I'd give 50 cents to my mother, and then I'd go get me a cigar," Sifford told the Charlotte Observer.

The Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park lies approximately four miles west of downtown Charlotte. "I want you to know that the greens fees will be raised Monday morning," Sifford joked in front of the crowd of several hundred at the renaming ceremony.

The dedication ceremony coincided with Wells Fargo Championship, a PGA Tour event that began Thursday at Quail Hollow Club.

Sifford, who was elected to PGA of America membership in 1964, was among the top 60 money-earners on the PGA Tour from 1960-69, winning the 1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational and the 1969 Los Angeles Open. He made 399 cuts in 422 total events.

Prior to the debut of the Champions (then called the Senior PGA) Tour, Sifford won the 1975 Senior PGA Championship at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He was honored as one of the top 100 individuals in the First Century of Golf.

In 2004, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as its first African-American member. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2005 from St. Andrews University in Scotland. That same year the Northern Trust Open created a special Charlie Sifford exemption, an annual invitation into the event for a player who represents the advancement of diversity in the game.

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