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Cameron Morfit
March 02, 1998
The Year L.A. Opened the Door
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March 02, 1998

Flashback

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The Year L.A. Opened the Door

Fifty years ago, Bill Spider and Teddy Rhodes finished 22nd and 29th, respectively, at the independently run Los Angeles Open. Thus they earned automatic entry into the Richmond ( Calif.) Open, where Spider and Rhodes would become the first black golfers to play in a PGA-sponsored event.

Or so they thought. Instead they were barred by officials citing a "Caucasians only" clause in the PGA of America's bylaws. Spider and Rhodes sued the PGA, which responded by relabeling pro events invitationals (whites only) instead of opens. In 1957 Charlie Sifford became the first black golfer to win a "white event," the Long Beach Open, and in 1961, under pressure from Sifford and California Attorney General Stanley Mosk, the PGA finally dropped its Caucasians-only clause.

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