Legendary golf player Charles Sifford was one of seven golfers inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame 2015 class on November 12. Other inductees included Tommy Bolt, Lee Trevino, and Payne Stewart.
Charles Sifford Jr. accepted the award for his father, who passed away in last February at the age of 92, according to the New York Times. Sifford’s career broke the color boundaries when he became the first African American golfer to compete in the PGA tour in 1961. The PGA also had a Caucasian-only clause at the time but Sifford persevered through hostility to continue his career in golf, according to New York Times.
“It showed that he was recognized by the world outside of golf,” said Sifford Jr. “He once talked about quitting, but my mother, Rose, would lift him up and kept him following his dream.”
Golfing came early in Sifford’s life, the Charlotte, N.C. native worked as a caddy at the golf courses and by the age of 13 he broke par, according to the New York Times. Before he started golfing, Sifford served in World War II in the Battle of Okinawa.
Sifford also earned the support of professional athletes like pitcher Don Newcombe and boxers “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Joe Louis.
Sifford’s passion and skill made him the winner of the National Negro Open six times during the 1950s. In 1961, he was allowed PGA Tour membership as the PGA of America. The Caucasian-only membership clause was abolished.
Sifford also won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969, according to Yahoo News.
In 2004 Sifford became the first African American to be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame. President Barack Obama presented Sifford with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on November 2014.