Pioneer James Black Remembers A Life in A Lifetime Game

James Boulware, the general manager at Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course, and James Black.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | It’s been 57 years, but the memory still warms James Black as he sits at a small table in the clubhouse at the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course on a chilly winter’s morning.

The year was 1964 and Black, just 22 years old at the time, shot 67 in the first round of the Los Angeles Open at Rancho Park, putting him among the first-round leaders, just three years after the Caucasian-only clause was removed from PGA Tour by-laws.

Black would finish in the top 10 that week, one of two top-10 finishes in five PGA Tour starts that year. He didn’t get rich – Black earned $2,425 in 1964 according to tour records – but he proved he could play at the highest level, something Black players had only recently been given the opportunity to do.

“I was so happy to play in a PGA tournament. I didn’t feel no pressure,” says Black, who is credited with 11 career starts on the PGA Tour.

Sifford, Ted Rhodes, Bill Spiller an…

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