Editor’s note: This story, which originally published on Aug. 31, is another installment in our annual Best Of The Year series. Throughout December, we will be bringing you the top GGP+ stories of 2022.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | Charlie Sifford Jr. sat at a table inside the pavilion at Quail Hollow Club on Monday afternoon, a glass of iced tea in front of him, and thought about what the previous 36 hours would have meant to his father, a Charlotte native and the first African-American to play the PGA Tour.
In a prelude to the Presidents Cup next month, the inaugural Charlie Sifford Centennial Cup was played Monday featuring the men’s golf teams from six historically black colleges and universities competing in a series of team and individual matches.
The fact that team Charlie Sifford beat team James Black (another prominent African-American golfer from Charlotte) was secondary to the experience that began on Sunday with practice rounds and other events.
“He’d be super happy about it,” Sifford Jr. said of his late father, who would have turned 100 on June 2. “Two things he wanted: he just wanted to play the game of golf and have kids of all ages have an equal chance to play the game. He fell in love with the game when he was 10 years old.
“He would have been jumping off walls to see something like this.”
Six teams – Howard University, Florida A&M, Alabama State, Texas Southern, Livingstone and host school Johnson C. Smith – participated. Each of the schools received a $25,000 donation to its golf program from the PGA Tour’s Presidents Cup.
Part of the experience was playing Quail Hollow in full Presidents Cup readiness. The course has more than 500,000 square feet of hospitality and support venues, bigger than any previous Presidents Cup, with structures on 16 of the 18 holes.
“This is probably the best golf tournament I’ve ever been a part of. It’s something special,” said Florida A&M’s Troy Stribling. “I haven’t played a course like this in this atmosphere. To have the Presidents Cup be on TV and to say I played those holes is something special.”
Initially, the teams were going to be part of the announcement of the captain’s picks for the U.S. and International teams Monday evening, but those were delayed until next week. Still, International team members Adam Scott and Sungjae Im played a practice round at Quail Hollow on Monday around the Sifford event.
The creation of the Sifford Centennial Club grew out of discussions earlier in the year about promoting the biennial Presidents Cup, which is expected to have 40,000 spectators daily during the competition.
“We sat in a room and were talking about it being a media day,” said Presidents Cup chairman John Harris, a Quail Hollow member. “I said, ‘Are we sure we want to have a media day? Is there something we can do that’s impactful in the game of golf?’ (Executive director) Adam (Sperling) and I started talking about it and he started talking to headquarters, and someone came up with this idea.
“It was like a light bulb went off. This is it. So many sponsors and groups we have partnered with said it was a great idea. We didn’t know exactly how to do it and what to do, but with their questions we were able to fill in the blanks of how to put this together.
“It’s been very impactful.”
Charlie Sifford learned the game as a caddie in Charlotte and eventually won two PGA Tour events among his 22 professional titles. Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.
“I knew he was a trailblazer,” Stribling said. “I didn’t know every obstacle he had to go through to get where he was. He’s not talked about like Muhammad Ali or Malcolm X or MLK. He should be. He went through a lot to help us get to where we are.”
Sifford Jr., who lives in Cleveland, still has strong ties to the Charlotte area, where a golf course is named for his father. As the players gathered after the competition for a reception that included fresh seafood and other delicacies, he contemplated potential next steps for the event.
Sifford is hopeful the event can be played at the site of an HBCU in years when the Presidents Cup isn’t played in the United States.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Sifford Jr., who met every player and coach in the event. “It’s more than I expected it to be.
“The young men get a chance to play a great golf course and be the first ones to play in something like this. I just hope they enjoyed themselves and had a great experience playing. Win or lose, they won because they got an opportunity to play here.
“When I was growing up, there was nothing near this. You were lucky if you had an organized golf club in school when I was coming up. This is a fantastic opportunity for the kids to be exposed to something like this.”
Charlie Sifford Centennial Cup photos: James Nix, PGA Tour
© 2022 Global Golf Post LLC
Support premium quality golf journalism.
Subscribe for $48 annually (20% off)
Click here and use coupon code GGP48
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?