Golf World's Lipouts recently included a quote from Jackson State coach Eddie Payton on the dearth of African-American players on tour and the effect that would have a future black golfers. Marshall Stewart of Fort Worth took exception.
I may be confused by Coach Payton's comment, or maybe its intent. However, saying "If we don't get some black players on tour soon, we're going to lose a generation of potential African-American golfers" is out of bounds. First, I dare say that he should make reference to "American" golfers be they of African descent, from Sweden, or Mars for that matter. The term keeps segregation going when we would best be served by integration with no mention of race or national origin. As for getting some black players on tour I will ask "Who is we'?" And last I heard a player can join the tour by meeting the rules of qualification. Affirmative action doesn't play in the game of golf.
Fort Worth, Texas
Here's the point, I think. Is golf getting the best athletes, black, white or other? Maybe not. On February 11 at 9 p.m., check out the new Golf Channel documentary, "Uneven Fairways," based in part on the book by Golf World's Pete McDaniel. It does a remarkable job of telling the story of competitive black golfers who were not allowed a place on the PGA tour prior to 1961 and who formed their own tours as a result. These were some serious players and although you're right, Marshall, in urging us all to get beyond the issue of race, the documentary makes clear that we're still living with the consequences of decisions made those decades ago. As a consequence, it may be easier for whites to put aside memories of the "Caucasian-only" tour than blacks. In the end, I'd like to see all talented young athletes consider golf. What Coach Payton is saying is, that's not happening. It will. What Tiger's doing and what the First Tee is building will eventually make golf truly integrated. But it will take time.