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The Reckoning at Shoal Creek: When golf's race problem came out of the shadows

Local Knowledge
Local Knowledge

In 1990, the PGA Championship was set to be played at Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club near Birmingham, Alabama. The course had hosted the tournament six years earlier, but this time, thanks to an incendiary comment from the club's founder, the golf world couldn't ignore an inconvenient fact: Shoal Creek wouldn't admit any black members. Nor could the PGA paint it as an isolated problem, or even a southern problem—all across America, private golf clubs were excluding minorities, and many of those clubs hosted major events. That summer in Alabama, the PGA of America and Shoal Creek engaged in a tense standoff, and the outcome would reverberate across golf and change the landscape of the professional and amateur game. The racial problem that had long remained in the shadows, even as the 21st century approached, was now out in the open, and nothing would ever be the same again.


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