The Golf Channel will air a first-of-its-kind documentary, â€œUneven Fairways,â€ on Wed. Feb. 11 at 9p.m. Hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, this hour-long documentary is based on the books, "Uneven Lies" by Pete McDaniel and "Forbidden Fairways" by Calvin H. Sinnette. It will chronicle a little known story of when honor and fair play in golf took a backseat to segregation, which led African-American men and women to create their own tour in the form of the United Golf Association (UGA).
It celebrates the history of the African-American golfers who had the courage to stand up for their rights to play golf at the highest levels and to pave the way for others to do the same. The Golf Channelâ€™s president, Page Thompson, says â€œâ€˜Uneven Fairwaysâ€™ will be one of the most compelling programs we will air in 2009. These are inspiring stories of golfers who overcame great odds just to create a tour where they could compete. Itâ€™s a fascinating and important story, and we are all proud to tell it on Golf Channel.â€
Last modified on Monday, 09 February 2009 21:43
The documentary will recognize the first African-American professional golfer, John Shippen, who competed in the 1896 U.S. Open Championship, his first of five before the â€œCaucasian Onlyâ€ clause was adopted by the PGA. It will also recognize Bill Spiller and Ted Rhodes, both top African-American golfers from the 40â€™s and 50â€™s, who both initiated litigation against the PGAâ€™s â€œCaucasian Onlyâ€ clause, which was overturned in 1961.
In 1962 Charlie Sifford became the first African-American member of the the PGA. Sifford, who is considered by many African-American golfers as the Jackie Robinson of golf, talked about meeting his baseball hero.
"He [Jackie Robinson] asked me if I was a quitter, and I told him no. He said, â€˜All right, if you are not a quitter, go ahead and take up the game, but you are going to run into some obstacles that you are going to wish you hadnâ€™t.â€™ But I never did quit.â€ PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods pays tribute to these pioneers when he says â€œNot only the golfing community, but everyone should know who they were.
They were true pioneers. If it wasnâ€™t for their focus and dedication to the great love of the game of golf, my father probably wouldnâ€™t have played the game because he wouldnâ€™t have had access to the game, so, in essence, I owe my entire career to them and their pioneering efforts.â€