Douglas, Merchant Inducted Into National Black Golf Hall of Fame
March 29, 2010
Tampa, Fla. – Barbara Douglas, the chairman of the USGA Women’s Committee, and John Merchant, a former member of the USGA Executive Committee, were inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in a ceremony on March 27.
The National Black Golf Hall of Fame was established in 1986 by Harold Dunovant, a Class A PGA professional, to recognize the
John Merchant, the first African-American to serve on the USGA Executive Committee, was inducted into the Black Golf Hall of Fame on Saturday in Tampa, Fla. (USGA Museum)
contributions of African-American golfers and to honor those who have promoted golf in African-American communities.
Winston Lake Golf Course in Winston-Salem, N.C., which opened in 1956 and was one of the first courses in North Carolina to welcome African-American players, was also announced as a hall of fame inductee by Jeffrey Dunovant, executive director. Previous 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).
Douglas was named to the USGA Women’s Committee in 1993 and began a two-year term as chairman in 2009. She was the first minority member of the committee. She is a board member of the Junior Golf Association of Arizona and the former president of the National Minority Golf Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to promote and expand opportunities for women and minorities in golf.
She was honored by the NBGHF for her dedication and commitment to advancing the role of women and minorities in the game of golf.
“I’m a doer, not a talker,” Douglas said at the induction ceremonies. “I like to focus on a goal and get down to work to achieve that goal.”
Douglas said her induction into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame had caused her to seriously reflect on her role in golf. Part of her motivation, she said, was her determination to make a difference and to help people on her staff become the best they could be.
“Nothing I have accomplished could have been done without the help, support and hard work of many others, some of whom are in this room,” Douglas said.
The audience of some 300 people included well-known players such as Jim Dent, John Black, Adrian Stills and Jim Thorpe, as well as representatives of national golf organizations and golf media outlets.
In 1958, Merchant became the first African-American to graduate from the University of Virginia Law School. In 1992, he was named to the USGA Executive Committee.
Merchant said the highlight of his tenure on the Executive Committee was organizing four symposiums on diversity and the role of minorities in the game.
“We brought together blacks from more than 30 states and movers and shakers of the industry, and we discussed diversity, and then we played some golf,” Merchant told the audience.
“The National Black Golf Hall of Fame brings a level of truth and completeness to golf’s American history,” Merchant said, “but I’m troubled by a level of unfinished business. We’ve failed to adequately define golf’s own history with African-Americans as part of that history. One more step must be taken. Golf must apply its standards of integrity to preserving its history.”
Tim Grant, director of the Winston-Salem Department of Parks and Recreation, spoke on behalf of Winston Lake Golf Course, which provided a facility for many of golf’s African-American pioneers to prepare to compete as professionals.
“To go back and tell those black golfers and those people who struggled to help that course survive, that’s what means so much to me,” Grant said.
The Mid Winter Classic, a golf tournament, was conducted in conjunction with the hall of fame weekend. The tournament was sponsored by Nestle USA, the Tampa Sports Authority and Advocates USA, which is dedicated to improving African-American communities. The weekend also included a symposium on the role of African-Americans in golf, headed by Dr. Michael Cooper.
Story written by Rhonda Glenn, manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.