Why are there no black pro golfers (other than you know who)?

We now have the same number of African Americans playing the PGA and LPGA golf tours as we have Presidents of the U.S. – one. And his name is Tiger Woods.

Tiger’s success was supposed to bring a whole generation of African American golfers who could turn pro, but that has just not happened. There were more black pros on tour decades ago after the color barrier was broken by Charles Sifford.

So what happened? I think the answer is more about access than it is about racism. Golf is an expensive sport, not just to play, but also for equipment, instruction, and quality practice facilities. And while there are programs like First Tee that help expose golf to low-income kids, this is not enough to give someone with talent the years of financial backing that it takes to see if they are good enough to turn pro.

In a recent episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines program where this issue was discussed, there were two schools of thought. Former pro basketball player Julius Erving (who now owns a golf course) took a position similar to mine – that the main problem is access. Others on the program blamed the problem on discrimination by the clubs and others who want to keep the status quo, and complained that the tours and Tiger Woods don’t do enough to promote diversity in the sport.

While I do think there is some truth to these points, this smacks more of victimization rather than the harsh reality that golf is an expensive sport. You can say the same thing about other sports, such as auto racing, skiing, sailing, and ice hockey. Not a lot of diversity in those sports either.

Here’s the ESPN Outside the Lines program:



5 Responses to “Why are there no black pro golfers (other than you know who)?”

  1. Jimmy Adams says:

    This is not about race…its about personal ambition, guidance and achievement. Its true there are not as many facilities for young people to learn about playing golf as there are facilities for other sports, such as basketball courts and ball fields. But a young person with the love of the game and a mentor to guide that person in the right direction can achieve a goal.

  2. Clifford Tong says:

    Your point is well taken, but it also is an acknowledgment that the playing field is not level. That does not mean that ambitious, hard-working people cannot succeed, just that some have more to overcome than others.

  3. roy bunnkowski says:

    So we can assume that since there are only one or two caucasian professional sumo wrestlers in Japan that all Japanese are racists?

    Numbers don’t tell everything and logic does not play favorites, either. It must be applied uniformly to all discussions.

  4. Rush says:

    It is obvious… black golfers have not put in the time necessary to be pro. It’s that simple…. that being said there are factors why… access to training and facilities are major factors as well as the lack of mentors for guidance.

    So what needs to be done, for those who feel this is very important… money needs to be raised to support these players… a golf scholarship for focused players to take it to the next level… only then will you see more black professional players. So who is game… all you need is to give young black golfers 35k a year and cover trainer cost for 3-4 sessions a week.

  5. Clifford Tong says:

    Rush,
    I think it is the goal of the First Tee program (http://www.thefirsttee.org) to expose the game of golf to many kids who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford it. Then if a person sticks with it and shows some talent, they can join their school team, maybe get a college scholarship, and so on. That still doesn’t level the playing field, but it should help, don’t you think?

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