First sign of hope for black golfers shone in tiny Oklahoma town

More than 30 years before Tiger Woods captured his first PGA title, a little-known golfer named Pete Brown rolled into the tiny Oklahoma town of Burneyville and made history.

The 29-year-old Mississippi native bested a tournament-tested field at the 1964 Waco Turner Open.

What’s so significant about the final results of some little golf tournament played in rural Oklahoma almost half a century ago?

Plenty. And not just from a sports angle, but from one of great social value. Only nine months after civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech in Washington D.C., Brown fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams by becoming the first black to win a PGA Tour event.

The fact he did it without any fanfare and with little media attention makes Brown the answer to an obscure trivia question. His accomplishment is still underpublicized today.

Truth is, Brown was golf’s equivalent of Jackie Robinson. He quietly and passionately waged war against racism and discrimination ” with a golf club in his hand, a smile on his face and a dream in his heart.

“We dealt with a lot of obstacles back then. Unfortunately, it was just the way it was,” said Brown, now a Ohio resident. “Being the first black player to win a PGA event was special. I knew it was important because of the struggles we had endured just to play on the regular tour, but I don’t think I realized how truly significant it was until later on.” “Jay C. Upchurch

Jay C. Upchurch

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