Wethersfield Golf Tournament Held to Honor Man Who Broke the Sport's Color Barrier

Charlie Sifford's 1967 Greater Hartford Open win was the first on the PGA Tour by a Black golfer. That win was commemorated Tuesday at Wethersfield Country Club.

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Charlie Sifford is a golf pioneer. He was the first Black golfer on the PGA tour and his first win came right here in Connecticut in what was then known as the Greater Hartford Open.

On Tuesday in Wethersfield, a charity tournament was held on the very course where that historic win took place.

At Wethersfield Country Club there were 100 golfers. Symbolic of the 100 years since Sifford was born. They were there honoring the man who broke golf’s color barrier.

“One would say that Charlie is our Jackie Robinson in golf,” said Travelers Championship board member Greg Jones.

In 1967, on the very course where Tuesday’s tournament was played, Sifford claimed the first of his two PGA tour wins. Among those participating was Charlie’s son who recalls the trying times his father faced.

“He went through a lot of racism, bigotry,” said Charlie Sifford, Jr. “He had death threats from people who would call him and tell him they would kill him if he came to the golf course the next day.”

Sifford’s granddaughter was there too and said her grandfather would be proud of the progress she witnessed on the course today.

“Ladies playing with men. All different ethnicities playing together,” Julia Sifford said. “I don’t think he would’ve even imagined that.”

Paired with Charlie Sifford Jr. Tuesday was former New York Knick, John Starks.

“We’ve been talking about some of his dad’s exploits and golf tournaments and life in general,” Starks said of the conversations they were having during the round.

Adam Cloud, 17, said his golf idol is Tiger Woods and says even he has Sifford to thank.

“[Tiger] probably wouldn’t have the same opportunities he had that he has now without Charlie Sifford,” Cloud said.

So, as golfers paid tribute to Sifford’s determination, his son remembered his dad for his resilience.

“He just told the people that you got to do what you got to do because I’m going to do what I have to do,” Sifford Jr. said.

All money raised from the tournament will go to the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Scholarship fund to help cover college tuition for students who attend a historically Black college or university, or for minority students focusing their education on a golf management program.

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