Massachusetts’ role in making golf more inclusive

Massachusetts’ role in making golf more inclusive


For decades, some players struggled to get out of the shadows in a sport that hasn’t always been known for inclusivity.With the US Open underway in Brookline, golf is in the spotlight in Massachusetts. But, for decades, some players struggled to get out of the shadows. “Golf has changed over the last century,” said Peter Roby, a reporter for the Bay State Banner who recently researched black history and golfing. “It has never been a game for the everyman. But, I think there are figures that have kind of broken through.” Figures like Francis Ouimet, a working class kid and son of an immigrant, who borrowed 25 dollars to play in the US Open in 1913. That was the first time it was held in Brookline. Ouimet stunned the golf world and won.”It was really a class change that he was making and won the game for the American public to play,” said Roby. “He launched a whole era of amateur golf in the United States.”But, for black golfers trying to find success on the course, Roby said the road has been rocky. For years, they played in a separate league specifically for black golfers.”It’s the history of discrimination in America,” said Roby. “The PGA tour had a whites only clause and so you couldn’t be a member, you couldn’t get a player card to play the PGA Tour if you were a black man until 1961.” Roby says there has been progress, fueled in part by courses like Franklin Park which is the second oldest public course in the country. “It’s the public courses, in golf, where people are really learning and practicing the game and where the American public is playing,” he explained. “It’s about being accessible. Located where we are in the Roxbury, Dorchester area and accessible to the community that lives here. Makes a big difference.” The question for Roby and others is what does the future hold?” Tiger Woods is prolific today and really identified with representation in the sport of golf and still I think there’s a question: how many more will follow Tiger Woods,” Roby wondered. “Is it a trend or is it a blip?”

For decades, some players struggled to get out of the shadows in a sport that hasn’t always been known for inclusivity.

With the US Open underway in Brookline, golf is in the spotlight in Massachusetts. But, for decades, some players struggled to get out of the shadows.

“Golf has changed over the last century,” said Peter Roby, a reporter for the Bay State Banner who recently researched black history and golfing. “It has never been a game for the everyman. But, I think there are figures that have kind of broken through.”

Figures like Francis Ouimet, a working class kid and son of an immigrant, who borrowed 25 dollars to play in the US Open in 1913. That was the first time it was held in Brookline. Ouimet stunned the golf world and won.

“It was really a class change that he was making and won the game for the American public to play,” said Roby. “He launched a whole era of amateur golf in the United States.”

But, for black golfers trying to find success on the course, Roby said the road has been rocky. For years, they played in a separate league specifically for black golfers.

“It’s the history of discrimination in America,” said Roby. “The PGA tour had a whites only clause and so you couldn’t be a member, you couldn’t get a player card to play the PGA Tour if you were a black man until 1961.”

Roby says there has been progress, fueled in part by courses like Franklin Park which is the second oldest public course in the country.

“It’s the public courses, in golf, where people are really learning and practicing the game and where the American public is playing,” he explained. “It’s about being accessible. Located where we are in the Roxbury, Dorchester area and accessible to the community that lives here. Makes a big difference.”

The question for Roby and others is what does the future hold?

“Tiger Woods is prolific today and really identified with representation in the sport of golf. I still think there’s a question: how many more will follow Tiger Woods,” Roby wondered. “Is it a trend or is it a blip?”

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