and from 1946-56, Charlie would spend the winters traveling with the band and the spring and summer playing as much golf as he could. In those years, he wasn’t as focused on getting the PGA to drop its “Caucasians Only” clause, so he spent a lot of time traveling the UGA circuit with Rhodes and others.
“When I started to play regularly on the UGA circuit, it was me and Teddy traveling together in one car and Zeke and Howard in the other,” recalls Sifford. “I remember one year Joe Louis bought Teddy a little red Buick. Teddy couldn’t drive, so I had to go to Detroit and get it for him. We were driving through Albuquerque on our way to California once. It was something hot, but Teddy was asleep. My foot got kind of big and I had that speedometer hitting 80 and 90. Suddenly, Teddy woke up and said, “Hell, Charlie Horse, don’t run Alexander so fast and hard. That’s what he called that car. Alexander. He near `bout washed it everyday. Kept it clean like he kept himself.”
Cliff Brown (no relation to Pete) recalls a similar Rhodes story. The two of them were driving through Florida, not too long after Rhodes had undergone an operation to have some hemorrhoids removed. “He was sitting on an inner tube, sleeping,” says Brown, “and I accidentally ran up on the median of this divided highway. Naturally, Teddy woke up to some discomfort, and he said, `Son, I told you to look out for the divided highway. Look out for the divided highway. He was real comical, real carefree.”
That is when he wasn’t on a golf course. Sifford says it took him five years before he could beat Rhodes in a Negro Open, because Rhodes was one of the most solid golfers he’d ever seen. Once Sifford did notch his first victory, he ran off a streak of five consecutive National Negro Open titles from 195256. His final national title came in 1961, the last year he played on the circuit. If nothing else, the UGA was the one tour Sifford could play without fear of any obstacles. A place where he could play without being ostracized because of the color of his skin.
One need only read his 1992 autobiography, Just Let Me Play (British American Publishing), to get an idea of the atrocities he and other blacks had to go through in an attempt to be treated fair
ly and equally by the PGA Tour. In 1952, for example, one week after Joe Louis became the first black man to play in a PGA-sponsored event, PGA tournament officials in Phoenix agreed to let seven blacks attempt to qualify for their tournament. “We vowed that if we had to compete to qualify, we’d play our hearts out and force them to enter us in the tournament,” Sifford wrote. “We’d show them how the black boys did it on the UGA Tour. We gave Joe Louis the honor of hitting the first