The Black Golf Greats That Phil Mickelson Misses Out On

As Golf was recently reminded in a retrospective feature, world-class golf champions are not always white. Golf’s best include golfers such as the late Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Sam Snead, Bill Rodgers, Seve Ballesteros, Bob Charles, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods, and of course, Phil Mickelson.

However, Phil Mickelson is also largely the result of a Black golfer breaking down racial barriers in golf’s corridors of power.

Andre Levy became the first Black golfer to win a professional golf tournament (at the Empire State Building in New York in 1972), a win that came after being ignored by tournament organizers due to his skin color. (Levy never played competitive golf until high school.)

Although Michael Jordan has also enjoyed the fruits of a Black golfer scoring an impressive victory, in Levy’s case, it wasn’t a professional tournament but rather a golf club championship in the backyard of sports enthusiast Sam Snead, where the small-but-player determined Levy ultimately had a chance to play because Snead invited him to join his netball team.

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