A ceremony was held for the recently renamed Charlie Sifford Drive honoring the late pioneering black golfer. Photo courtesy of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas's Twitter
A ceremony was held for the recently renamed Charlie Sifford Drive honoring the late pioneering black golfer. Photo courtesy of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s Twitter

A street dedication ceremony was held for the recently renamed Charlie Sifford Drive in the unincorporated Athens area honoring the late pioneering black golfer.

Sifford’s son Charlie Jr., his caddy Jimmy Green, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and former Assemblyman Steve Bradford attended the Sunday ceremony at the southwest corner of Western Avenue and Charlie Sifford Drive, near the entrance to the Chester Washington Golf Course, Sifford’s longtime home course.

“It’s important that we honor Mr. Sifford’s tremendous accomplishments so that all may be inspired by his courage and perseverance,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Ridley-Thomas joined Supervisor Don Knabe in authoring a motion in June to rename the portion of West 120th Street between Western and Van Ness avenues Charlie Sifford Drive.

The ceremony coincided with the conclusion of a tournament at the Chester Washington Golf Course conducted by the Advocates, a group of black male golfers that raises funds for organizations benefiting the black community.

Sifford became the first black on the PGA Tour in 1960 and the first black to be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He won the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and 1969 Los Angeles Open on the PGA Tour and was a six-time winner of the United Golf Association’s National Negro Open.

Sifford received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in November. He died Feb. 3 at the age of 92.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is play golf for a living and show that a black man can play golf as well as a white man,” Sifford wrote in his 1992 autobiography, “Just Let Me Play.” “I fell in love with the game the first time I set eyes on a golf course and luckily I had the kind of natural talent and determination that it takes to be a successful golf professional.

“But I had hazards placed before me that no pro before or since has had to deal with and my career has had as much to do with breaking down barriers as it had to do with driving and putting.”

— City News Service

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