When one thinks about the sport of golf, names may pop up like Jack Nicklaus, the late Arnold Palmer, or even Tiger Woods, the trailblazing minority who broke cultural barriers on the greens early in his career.
For a long time, golf was synonymous with the exclusive club of middle-aged to elderly white affluent males. Woods came along as a professional in the sport during the 1990s and revolutionized the way golf was viewed by the mainstream. In 1997, Woods became the youngest professional golfer in history to win a majors tournament.
Though he made some great cultural strides for golf in his career, Woods was not the first minority golfer in American history.
As a matter of fact, there was an entire team of black women golfers that was founded almost 60 years before Woods became a professional golfer. The name of this all-black women’s sporting establishment was called the Wake-Robin Golf Club.
“[The Wake-Robin Golf Club] was named after the purplish wildflower with gold stamens that sprouts in early spring,” wrote Kia Gregory, a journalist who recently did a special online report on this story for ESPNW.com.
“The resplendent flower symbolizes the club’s budding against the limiting thoughts, including of their husbands, of what women should and could do in the largely male, largely white male, world of golf,” Gregory continued in her special ESPN report.
The Wake-Robin Golf Club is widely viewed to be the longest-running African-American woman’s golfer’s club in the nation. In 1938, the club petitioned the federal government to desegregate public golf courses located in Washington D.C.
The ladies of the Wake-Robin Golf Club were also a major part of the activist movement, which forced the PGA of America to abolish its “white-only rule.”
“In those days, to see a black girl playing golf, you were somebody, you hear me. Black women didn’t play golf. We were always in somebody’s kitchen,” said Elizabeth McNeal in an exclusive interview with ESPN.
McNeal, 98, is one of the original member of the Wake-Robin Golf Club. She and other members of the historic golfer’s club have planned an 80th anniversary celebration for this coming June.
To read Gregory’s entire report about these legendary ladies, click the link to the listed source below.