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A fly in the buttermilk.

Although the Professional Golfers' Association's "Caucasian-only" clause, barring non-whites from participating in PGA-sanctioned events and membership, wasn't written into the organization's by-laws until 1934, blacks were, in effect, shunned and discouraged from participating in PGA tournaments. However, a light-skinned African-American named Dewey Brown found a way to circumvent the PGA's rigid racial non-policy.

Born in rural North Carolina around the turn of the 20th century, Brown began a long career in golf after his family moved to New Jersey. The young caddie became a player of note but gravitated toward clubmaking, fashioning clubs for socialites and some of the game's top players. Chick Evans used a set made by Brown to win the 1916 U.S. Amateur. Brown also became a respected golf instructor, working with renowned professional Willie Norton.

In 1928 Brown secured membership in the PGA of America. For six years, he performed all the duties of a golf professional, from instructing club members and equipment repair to overseeing outings and tournaments. In 1934, though, his membership in the PGA was inexplicably terminated. That same year the PGA added the following amendment to its constitution, Article III, Section I: "Professional golfers of the Caucasian Race and their assistants, over the age of 18 years and residing in North America or South America, who have served at least three years in the profession (either in employ of a golf club or as an assistant to a qualified professional) shall be eligible for election to membership, and in addition thereto the Association, in representative assembly, may elect any number of honorary members and from said honorary members may elect an honorary president and not to exceed two honorary vice-presidents."

The timing of the amendment could have been coincidence, but it is a certainty that Brown fit the PGA's criteria for membership in every respect but one. Apparently, his lack of pigmentation no longer masked his true ethnicity. He served at numerous clubs in New Jersey before his death in 1973, 12 years after the "Caucasian-only" clause was eliminated from the PGA's constitution.
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Title Annotation:Legends Of The Game
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:342
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