Douglas, Merchant To Enter National Black Golf Hall Of Fame

By David Shefter, USGA

Far Hills, N.J. - Barbara Douglas and John Merchant, two African-Americans who made historic inroads within the USGA volunteer hierarchy, have been chosen for induction into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place March 27 in Tampa, Fla.

Douglas, of Scottsdale, Ariz., became the first African-American appointed to the USGA’s Women’s Committee in 1993. In January of 2009, she became chairman of the Women’s Committee.

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John Merchant (center) is the first African-American graduate of the University of Virginia Law School. (USGA Museum)

“When I was advised that I had been selected for induction in the National Black Golf Hall of Fame, I was overcome with joy,” said Douglas. “This is indeed a great honor. I never imagined myself being among such august company as Bill Dickey, Maggie Hathaway, Renee Powell or Judy Bell. I am deeply appreciative of the honor and look forward to the induction ceremony.”

A graduate of Southern Illinois University and a longtime executive with the IBM Corporation, Douglas played golf well enough to qualify four times for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in the 1980s. She became involved with the administrative side of the game when she joined the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship Committee in 1992. She later chaired that committee as a USGA Women’s Committee member. Besides her USGA duties, Douglas also served as president/managing director of the National Minority Golf Foundation from September 1999 to December 2004. The foundation was a nonprofit organization formed to promote and expand opportunities for minorities, in both the game and business side of golf.

In 1992, Merchant became the first African-American elected to the 15-person USGA Executive Committee. During his three-year tenure, he hosted symposiums that were attended by golfers from 30 states as well as representatives of the golf industry, including the PGA Tour, The PGA of America, the LPGA Tour and leading manufacturers.

Merchant is a native of Greenwich, Conn., and a graduate of Virginia Union University. He is also the first African-American graduate of the University of Virginia Law School. Merchant is retired and currently working on two books.

Founded in 1986 by the late Harold Dunovant, the National Black Golf Hall of Fame was established to recognize and honor contributions of black golfers to the game, and to honor persons, regardless of race or ethnicity, who have done the most to promote golf in African-American communities. Inductees include former USGA president Judy Bell, Charlie Sifford, Teddy Rhodes and John Shippen, the first African-American to play in the U.S. Open (1896 at Shinnecock Hills).

David Shefter is a staff writer based in the USGA’s Communication Department. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.

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