Let Us Play – Separate But Equal

Separate but equal, black girls golf, atlanta golf, black history monthOne of the first challenges to “Separate But Equal” doctrine happened on a golf course

It has been 62 years since Separate But Equal was challenged by a group of African American golfers in Atlanta. The City was no stranger to wealthy African Americans, including the Holmes family. Aflred “Tup” Holmes was the outspoken son of a prominent Atlanta physician. Tup was an avid golfer who was accustomed to playing a black-owned, 9-hole course on the “black” side of town. When Tup; his father Dr. H.M. Holmes, brother Oliver W. Holmes; and friend, Charles T. Bell tried to play the public Bobby Jones Course, they were told “niggers” weren’t allowed unless they were caddying. The threesome was escorted off the premises. Public parks in the Jim Crow South were not desegregated. This included public golf courses. Inclusion in golf was not on any golfer’s agenda at that time.

In 1951 the foursome formed The Atlanta Golf Committee with the purpose of desegregating public golf courses in Atlanta. The group grew to more than 300 members. The group was also represented by attorneys R.E. Thomas, E.E. Moore, Jr., and S.S. Robinson. The attorneys attempted to negotiate with the city but The City of Atlanta was unwilling to negotiate.

Alfred Holmes, Dr. H.M. Holmes, Oliver W. Holmes (Photo credit gatech.edu)

In 1953, two years after the incident at Bobby Jones Golf Club, Tup decided to sue the City of Atlanta. In the suit, Holmes vs. Atlanta, Tup sought to desegregate public parks and golf courses and failed. Unsatisfied with the lower court’s decision, Tup appealed the decision in the appellate court in New Orleans. The NAACP supported the legal action by sending a young, up and coming attorney, Thurgood Marshall, to lead the charge. The case went before the U.S District Court in 1955 where the court ruled in favor of the golfers citing that forbidding African American golfers from playing on public courses was discrimination. However, the Court also upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine arguing that it was not in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment, as decided in Brown v. Board of Education just two months prior on May 17, 1954. The Court ruled that City of Atlanta must construct a municipal golf course that would allow African Americans to play on a “separate but equal” course.

Eventually, the case would be heard before the U.S. Supreme court.On November 7, 1955, the US Supreme Court ruled against the city of Atlanta, asserting the lower Court of Appeals and the US District Court erred in upholding the Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” doctrine. The Supreme Court entered a decree for the petitioners in line with its rulings on desegregation, including a case filed by African Americans in Baltimore seeking the integration of public beaches (Dawson v. Baltimore, 1955).

Georgia Gov. Marvin Griffin was upset by the court’s ruling and fanned racial fires by declaring, “Co-mingling of the races in Georgia state parks and recreation areas will not be tolerated.” In support of his governor, Atlanta mayor William B. Hartsfield, encouraged the city to sell its courses to private individuals, who could then declare them open to private membership only. However, Atlanta’s public courses were officially desegregated without incident. Although it was legal for Tup to play at Bobby Jones, he opted not to.

Tup succumbed to cancer in December of 1967. In 1983, Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young renamed Adams Park Golf Course the Alfred E (Tup) Holmes Memorial GC. In 1986, it was leased to the American Golf Management Company.

The larger battles in golf have been fought and won. Now, we must continue to push for equal access to opportunities and representation at every level of the game.

Golf isn’t white enough. . .

. . . said no one ever, especially during Black History Month.

Black History Golf, Black Girls Golf, Black woman golfers, Black History MonthMonth is in full swing; another year spent counting how many firsts we have in the industry that has been slow to evolve and truly reflect the society in which we live. How many professional African American female golfers can you name off the top of your head? I can do it without using both hands and this month I’ve told you about a few who haven’t made it to the history books yet. Perhaps we’ll hear more about them in future Black History Month Celebrations.

I mean how many times am I supposed to tell you Althea Gibson was the first African American woman to play on the LPGA Tour. How many times must I say, her experience wasn’t pleasant. She even had to change in her car on several occasions as she wasn’t allowed in the locker room at many private clubs.

Maybe you’re expecting me to tell you again that in the 67 year history of the LPGA there have only been 8 African American women who have ever played on the LPGA Tour. There aren’t any racial barriers to the game today, however, the residue of our country’s past leaves a stain on the game that has been difficult to erase. 

I could go on and on, about the sacrifices and human indignities African American golfers endured to play golf professionally in this country. Their desire and passion for the game created a legacy for us to celebrate and continue. For that, I am forever grateful. My desire to pay homage to their sacrifices is the motivation  that drives the work we do at Black Girls Golf to highlight and celebrate African American golfers and introduce African American women and girls to the golf

Celebrating African American contributions to golf is something we do everyday at Black Girls Golf. We don’t reserve our excitement for one month out of the year. However, we will spend the next few weeks on Instagram celebrating the future of the game by highlighting a few golfers you may have never heard of.

Perhaps, after hearing about these stories, you will be encouraged to share Black Girls Golf with a young person in your sphere of influence. After all, many golfers only got into the game because someone they love introduced them to it.


Junior Golf Internship Deadline Approaching

Indiana golf, golf internship, junior golfIndiana Junior Golf Program is seeking to fill 6 golf internships for the Indiana Junior Golf Tour

The Indiana Junior Golf Program is looking for motivated, capable and mature applicants to serve as Junior Tour Coordinators. Interns will travel extensively throughout the State of Indiana conducting Indiana Junior Golf Program tournaments, including Tour and Championship events.

Please share this opportunity with your network. Click here for details

The Road to LPGA

A look inside the ropes with Ginger Howard on the road to the LPGA Tour

Ginger Howard, Symetra Tour, LPGA, Black Girls Golf

By Adriana Lacey Jan 2017

For Ginger Howard, breaking barriers is the norm. At 17-years-old, Howard was the youngest African American woman in the world to win her first tournament and become a professional golfer.

Since then, Howard has gone on to win various awards and achievements, including an EBONY Power 100 award and a leadership award from the African American Golf Digest Magazine.

Now, Howard is ready to begin her 6th year on the Symetra Tour. The tour is the LGPA Tour’s developmental golf tour for professional women golfers and qualified amateurs.

The road to the tour is challenging, with various fees appearing almost daily. “Tour life is expensive. The cost of gas, airfare, hotels and food adds up,” Howard told BGG.

With multiple entry fees, some reaching as high as $500, things can get expensive. “ As you can imagine, this can get difficult when we professional golfers don’t have a good week and miss the cut,” she said.

Things are even more costly for Howard as she has her own caddy. “Not every week am I able to find private housing and not all private housing allows a caddy,” she said. “Those weeks can definitely be a grind since I’m seriously living on a budget. From hotel expenses to finding a place to eat every day for every meal is also an added expense.”

Last year’s golf fees were more than $11,000 for Howard. The organization Sisters Across America has been a big help for the golfer, as they fund many of her tournament fees. In addition, fans have donated gift cards and gas cards to help with expenses.

As Howard begins another promising year, she is hoping that once again she can receive help to pay for travel and competition expenses.

“Every little bit such as that goes a long way and is always tremendously appreciated,” she said.

Donations for Howard’s 2017 fees are currently being accepted at gofundme.com/gingerhoward. Donations are taxed 5% when transferred to her bank account.