AT THE PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW, I enjoyed a special treat: a preview screening of Uneven Fairways, a Golf Channel documentary about the Negro leagues of professional golf.
The program profiles the African-American golfers who were not allowed to compete on the PGA Tour due to the Caucasian-only clause (finally removed in 1961). So the men started their own tour, the United Golf Association (UGA).
The show consists mostly of interviews with players such as Charlie Sifford, Pete Brown, Jim Thorpe, Calvin Peete and a few others (James Black, for instance) who you probably have never heard of (and won’t soon forget). There’s also historic footage, including film of the legendary Ted Rhodes and Bill Spiller.
Three of golf’s giants − Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods − also pay tribute to golf’s African-American pioneers. Samuel Jackson is the host and narrator.
After the preview screening, I shook the hand of Pete McDaniel, who co-wrote Uneven Fairways, and is the author of Uneven Lies and a Golf Digest columnist. Well done, I said. Maybe you’ll agree. But first you have to watch.
“Uneven Fairways” airs tonight (Wednesday, February 11) at 9 p.m. on the Golf Channel.
−The Armchair Golfer