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    Charlotte golf course named after pioneer who inspired Tiger Woods

    By Julian Sadur,

    29 days ago

    PINEHURST, N.C. ( QUEEN CITY NEWS ) – As Tiger Woods hits the course for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst with his son in tow there’s something that links them both to another golf course over 100 miles away in Charlotte.

    Nestled off of Remount Road you’ll find the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course. Sifford, a Charlotte native, was the first Black golfer to break the color barrier in pro golf in 1961. He’s also the man that Woods named his son Charlie after.

    “It was a great honor,” said Charles Sifford Jr., Dr. Sifford’s son. “You know we were surprised that he did that. We didn’t know anything about that in advance.”

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    As the younger Sifford says, Tiger and his dad were close when he was alive.

    “They would call each other and talk and (Tiger) would send emails and text messages, have him in his locker,” said Sifford. “You know, when he was leading the tournament (my dad) would say go out there and get that trophy and get that cash.”

    As Tiger has said himself, without Dr. Sifford he probably wouldn’t have ever played golf. For the Queen City pioneer, there were plenty of people who didn’t want him to play golf, especially as he was breaking the color barrier. That was plenty evident his first time back in North Carolina as a PGA golfer at the Greater Greensboro Open.

    “He was leading the tournament after the first day and then that night he had several phone calls,” said Sifford recalls. “They threatened him, telling him if he came to the golf course, he would be carried away in a body bag.”

    Despite the threats and name-calling, Dr. Sifford refused to quit, knowing that his playing was bigger than just himself.

    “He just went on that cigar in his mouth and just said I’m going to beat them anyway,” said John Love, a friend of Dr. Sifford’s.

    At the Sifford golf course, that iconic look of a cigar in the mouth is seen at every tee box engraved in stone along with facts about his life. It’s a reminder of his legacy: one that helped create Tiger, who in turn has inspired the next generation to pick up a club and continue to grow the sport.

    “People say he moved the needle. I say he is the needle,” said Josh Anderson, Regional general manager for Troon, which manages the public course seen from Interstate 77.

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    “I can tell you I wouldn’t be here without Tiger Woods,” said Corbin Strothee, who manages Sunset Hills Golf Course, another Mecklenburg County course that Troon operates. “He did a lot of trailblazing himself. He had to deal with a lot of the stuff that Dr. Sifford dealt with.”

    In that way, it’s almost poetic. As Charles Sifford Jr. and Charlie Woods watch Tiger this weekend at the U.S. Open, over 100 miles away in Charlotte, at a course named after a man who inspired them all, another golfer may be getting that same inspiration from Dr. Sifford.

    “He played at a level that I think people think of him as the first African-American tour golfer,” said Daniel Fogarty, executive director of First Tee of Greater Charlotte, based at the course. “I think he was one of the greatest players that ever played.”

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WNCT.

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