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PGA Historical Center Unveils African-American Exhibit

 

 

- PGA.com

Editor's Note: In addition to the displays at the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla., The PGA of America will also commemorate Black History Month during February with displays at PGA Headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In celebration of Black History Month, the PGA Historical Center, in Port St. Lucie, Fla., has unveiled a tribute to influential African Americas who paved the path for diversity and equal treatment for everyone who plays the game. The displays are also the first audio-visual exhibits ever at the PGA Historical Center golf museum, which opened in 2002. Among those honored are three African American pioneers -- Ted Rhodes, John Shippen and Bill Spiller -- who were denied the opportunity to become PGA Members during their professional careers; and legendary world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis Barrow Sr. -- better known as Joe Louis -- who became an advocate for diversity in golf, and helped pave the way for the removal of The PGA's "Caucasian-only clause," which was part of the Association's by-laws from 1934-1961.

On Nov. 14, 2009, The PGA of America bestowed posthumous membership upon Rhodes, Shippen and Spiller at the PGA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The PGA also granted posthumous honorary membership to Louis, who became only the 11th person to receive the honor in the Association's history, which dates to 1916. Louis joined the likes of Presidents Dwight Eishenhower, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush on this prestigious list.

Video tributes in the PGA Historical Center poignantly highlight the lives of Rhodes, Shippen, Spiller and Louis, as well as PGA Life Member William Powell, who received the PGA Distinguished Service Award in August 2009. Powell, who founded Clearview Golf Club, the first golf course owned, operated and built by an African-American, passed away on Dec. 31, 2009, at the age of 93. Powell's daughter, Renee, a PGA member, and the second African American to compete on the LPGA Tour, is also featured on the occasion of her receiving the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf Award. There is also a tribute to Bill Dickey, the 1999 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient.

"If not for the mere color of their skin, these gentlemen would have most certainly become PGA members in their time," said PGA President Jim Remy. "While we can never erase the past, we can do everything possible to advance the promise of diversity and hope for all. It is one of the greatest honors to see these men rightfully earn their place as PGA members and as an Honorary PGA member. The PGA is proud to pay tribute to them, along with influential trailblazers, such as William and Renee Powell, and Bill Dickey, who are also showcased in this fascinating exhibit on display at the PGA Historical Center."

Visitors can review the videos, tribute plaque and a painting by acclaimed urban artist Kevin A. Williams in honor of these African American trailblazers, who helped advance the game of golf against many obstacles. Admission to the PGA Historical Center is complimentary. Hours are daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Easter Sunday. The PGA Historical Center is located adjacent to the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance at 8565 Commerce Center Dr., Port St. Lucie, Fla. Combined with the nearby PGA Golf Club, the facilities form PGA Village, which is ranked among the "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America" by Golf Digest.

For more information, please visit pgavillage.com or call 800-800-GOLF (4653).



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