An evening with Charles Sifford

Sunday 11 June 2006

Charlie Sifford, the legendary black golfer and civil rights pioneer to whom the University of St Andrews will give an honorary degree next week, will meet and answer questions from the public in St Andrews at a special event staged to mark the award of his degree.

An Evening With Charles L. Sifford will take place in School Three in St Salvator’s Quad, North Street, at 7 p.m. on June 24th 2006.

The evening will include contributions from Mr Sifford, a special video message from his long term friend Gary Player and a presentation by the well known journalist and author Pete McDaniel. McDaniel is the author of “Uneven Lies” the story of the struggle of African Americans in golf.

All are welcome and admission to this event is free but tickets need to be obtained from Joyce Scott, e-mail js10@st- or telephone 01334 462110.

Mr Sifford will be made a Doctor of Laws by the University in a ceremony at Younger Hall on Thursday June 22nd 2006 at 2.30 p.m.

Charlie Sifford, who Tiger Woods describes as his “honorary grandfather¿, is an iron willed golf pro who spent his career fighting for inclusion.

He challenged the PGA’s Caucasian- only clause to become its first black member in 1960 at a time when the only blacks on tour were caddies. During his career he endured death threats, heard racial slurs shouted from the galleries, was refused entry to clubhouses and in the 1952 Phoenix Open found human faeces in the cup when he and partner Joe Louis got to the first green.

He won the Hartford Open in 1967 and two years later took the Los Angeles Open. He played 422 events on the PGA tour and made 399 cuts.

Despite being the top black player on tour in the 60s, he was never invited to play in the Masters.

In his autobiography “Just Let Me Play” he recalls meeting Jackie Robinson at the time Robinson was trying to break the colour barrier in major league baseball and Sifford was taking his first steps as a pro.

“He asked me if I was a quitter,” Sifford said. “I told him no. He said, ‘If you’re not a quitter, there’s going to be a lot of obstacles you’re going to have to go through to be successful in what you’re trying to do.’

“I made up my mind I was going to do it. I just did it. Everything worked out perfect I think.”

Golf went some way to repaying its debt to Charlie Sifford when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004, the first black player to be honoured.

He chose the white South African Gary Player to induct him.

“I have such admiration for this man,” said Player, who also holds an Honorary Degree from St Andrews.

“I take my hat off to him…The hypocrisy that Charlie had to put up with! Yet I don’t find Charlie bitter, I find him compassionate. I have a great love and empathy for Charlie. I’ve seen an improvement in golf’s stance toward blacks, and Charlie has played a significant role in that improvement.

“Persistence is an ingredient that is essential to success, and Charlie had that persistence.

“To receive an honorary doctorate at the University of St. Andrews, one of the oldest in the world and in the town of the Home of Golf, is a very special honor – an honor Charlie is most deserved of.”

Issued by the University of St Andrews Contact : Niall Scott, tel 01334 462244, mobile 07711 223062

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