Sifford named 1957 Long Beach Open Champ
On this day, November 10th, 1957 Charlie Sifford won the 1957 Long Beach Open. Sifford who, at the time, was a four-time National Negro Open Champion beat a talented field during the 54 hole event. He shot rounds of 69-70-64 for a total score of 204, which included a $500 bonus for having the low round on the final day. Among those in the field were many distinguished stars of the game: Billy Casper, Jay Hebert, Gene Littler, Jerry Barber, Gay Brewer, Tony Lema, Tommy Bolt, Harry Cooper and Mike Souchak. In the face of racism, bigotry, and indecency he defied all odds by playing spectacular, focused tee to green golf.
The victory was an ironic bit of timing and foreshadowing, because for the two days after Sifford’s breakthrough, the PGA of America would hold its annual national meeting right there in Long Beach, Calif. The PGA was the same group that had a clause in its constitution that allowed Caucasians only for membership, and thus barred non-whites from playing in its tour events.
But four years later at the 1961 annual meeting in Hollywood, Fla., on another Nov. 10, the PGA of America removed that discriminatory clause from its constitution and paved the way for African-Americans to become members and thus play on tour. Shortly after, Sifford became the first black golfer to compete on the PGA Tour as a member, making Nov. 10 quite a special day in his career and African-American golfers who followed.
Even after the impressive win at Long Beach… Sifford was still not allowed to play next weeks PGA Tour event. With the help of California AG Stanley Mosk, three years later Sifford would receive full PGA membership. Two years before he was granted that membership he played in the 1959 US Open and placed 32nd. Important mentors such as Joe Louis & Jackie Robinson helped Sifford through his career. He went on to win two official money events, the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.