ball, and he put it down the fairway. Teddy and Eural Clark and I then teed up and took a few extra moments to control our excitement before swinging. Eural and Joe missed the green on their approach shots after Teddy and I put ours within birdie range. We waited for them to chip up, and then, since I was the closest to the pin, I walked up to pull the flagstick out. Something seemed funny and I glanced down at the cup. I had the flagstick half raised but I shoved it back into the cup. Somebody had been there before us. The cup was full of human — –.”
Sifford’s concentration was wrecked and he failed to qualify. It’s a wonder that he kept fighting so doggedly over the next nine years, finally getting his Approved Tournament Player’s card in 1961 and full PGA membership in May of `64. And while many still like to paint him as a bitter man who carries much too big a grudge against those who fought so hard to keep him down, the truth remains that black golfers would not have made the gains that they have if not for his insistence to be treated equally and fairly.
Unfortunately, progress often has its casualties, and when the PGA eased its restrictions against blacks, many of the UGA’s pros followed the exodus. The UGA didn’t disband right away, but it was clear from that day that it would never be as special as it used to be.
PLAYING TENNIS ON THE ATA TOUR
One has already left us, the other is terminally ill at her home in New Jersey. The two greatest black tennis players the world has ever known, gone forever from the stage they were born to star on.
From 1946 to 1980, Althea Gibson and the late Arthur Ashe played the game like no black person ever has, and some believe, like no black person ever will. Gibson won four grand slam tournaments in her career from 1946 to 1960, and Ashe three in his 12-year career. Anyone who had the honor of attending one of their matches, no doubt considers themselves blessed. Much in the same manner, Gibson and Ashe considered themselves extremely blessed to have been brought up through the American Tennis Association (ATA), the oldest black sports organization in the United States.
“At the outset, if it were not for the ATA, I would not be where I am today,” Ashe once said. “When I started playing in the early 50s, for many, the ATA was the only game in town.”
“There are many talented young people who, like myself, always wanted to be like somebody,” said Gibson in the ATA yearbook. “That first break for me came when the ATA took an interest in me. Through its tournament circuit and personal involvement, I gained championship status and the opportunity to find myself. For their support throughout the years, I will always be grateful.”
History will record the period during which Gibson and Ashe played