Born and raised in Charlotte, Charlie Sifford was the first African-American ever to play on the PGA Tour and became the first black to win a Tour event when a closing-round 64 propelled him to first place in the 1967 Greater Hartford Open. He also won the 1969 Los Angeles Open and took the 1980 Suntree Classic on the Senior PGA Tour. Other victories came in the 1975 PGA Seniors’ Championship, the 1957 Long Beach Open and the 1971 Sea Pines Open on the so-called “second” tour.
A long-time caddie at Charlotte Country Club and Myers Park Country Club, Sifford eventually decided he wanted to play golf for a living and turned pro in 1948 (although he didn’t join the PGA Tour until 1960 at age 36). He quietly endured taunts and insults for more than a decade before becoming the first black to play in a Tour event the 1961 Greater Greensboro Open, where he eventually finished fourth. Breaking the color barrier and playing well at Greensboro didn’t end his race-related problems, however. He wasn’t allowed to play at some tour stops and wasn’t allowed to use the locker room at some of the places that let him play. The galleries weren’t always kind to him either. “I’ve had some hard days and some good ones, but if I had it to do over, I’d do the same thing,” Sifford said at his induction ceremony. “I love the game and the world knows what I did. I feel good about myself.”
He was inducted in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
Charlie Sifford was inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 1985.