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One day in 1959, Charlie Sifford had pounded his drive up the center of the 17th fairway. His swing was as sweet as ever. A swing that had already cut through so many years of hate, resentment and anger. As we walked up the fairway, I caught a glimpse of something I had never seen on a golf course, despite growing up in apartheid South Africa, where you could be jailed for simply supporting a black man. A few spectators ran to Charlie’s golf ball and kicked it into the rough. Right there in front of everybody. I know Charlie felt that kick as if they had delivered it right to his gut. My blood boiled, but my heart ached. It was a message of pure hate, one following a racist slur shouted at Charlie just a one hole earlier. This was more than 60 years ago, but I can still see Charlie walking into the scorer’s tent and slamming his hands on the wooden table. I can see the little piece of lead from the tip of his pencil breaking off and hurtling to the floor. I can see Charlie’s shoulders drop and hear his heavy exhale as he tried to find words.
Charlie Sifford: The Man Who Never Quit
One all-time champion pauses to recognize the incredible courage in another.