The compelling, little-known story of golfer Charlie Sifford and attorney Stanley Mosk who together made history by taking on the PGA and their Caucasians Only by-law.
It began with a chance meeting at a Los Angeles country club in 1959. That was the day Charlie Sifford, the first Black golfer to get his PGA card, and Stanley Mosk, a crusading attorney general of California and future state Supreme Court justice, met for the first time. Little did either of them know that it would grow into a history-making alliance that would end segregation in professional golf.
In Changing the Course: How Charlie Sifford and Stanley Mosk Integrated the PGA, Peter May tells the captivating story of Sifford and Mosk’s battle to end the rank racial discrimination that had been codified in the constitution of the PGA. Black golfers who preceded Sifford, such as Bill Spiller and Ted Rhodes, had unsuccessfully challenged the PGA’s discriminatory policy. Sifford had been fighting the PGA for years just to be able to compete with the white players. Mosk had little knowledge of the PGA or the fact that Blacks were being discriminated against by the organization’s by-laws. But the golfer had a cause that the attorney general was only too eager to champion. The two made for a powerful pair.
Changing the Course focuses on the individual journeys of Sifford and Mosk before delving into the crucial intersection of their lives that changed the professional golf world forever. Their stories provide a window into the changing landscape of mid-20th century America when the nation was forced to confront its history of racial injustice in professional sports and beyond.
Peter May has spent the last four decades covering sports for the Boston Globe, the New York Times, ESPN, the Hartford Courant and United Press International. He is the author of five books, most recently The Open Question: Ben Hogan and Golf’s Most Enduring Controversy, which was nominated for the Herbert Warren Wind Award. He lives in New Hampshire.
A Note on Sources
Chapter 1 BEGINNINGS
Chapter 2 STANLEY
Chapter 3 THE BENEFACTORS
Chapter 4 STANLEY, THE DEATH PENALTY AND THE DEMOCRATIC REVIVAL IN CALIFORNIA
Chapter 5 THE FIGHT CONTINUES
Chapter 6 THE OBNOXIOUS RESTRICTION
ARONIMINK – JULY 1962
Chapter 7 CHARLIE IN THE 60S
Chapter 8 STANLEY IN THE 60S
Chapter 9 THE MASTERS
Chapter 10 BAKKE, BIRD, A SENIOR MOMENT AND AN ELUSIVE BUICK
Peter May's storytelling here qualifies as marvelous but also as crucial: It’s crucial that we learn the details and the human cost of the vile realities of our history.
Stanley Mosk did as much for us as Charlie Sifford did. We couldn’t play. Even though Charlie laid the groundwork, it was Mosk who opened the door. This book finally tells that story.
With cogent reporting and new insights, Peter May resurrects the pivotal story of how Charlie Sifford and Stanley Mosk, improbable allies, valiantly worked together to end codified racial discrimination in golf. It is a 1960s tale that's more relevant than ever today.
In these pages, Peter May lays out with intricate detail the story of the unlikely partnership of the Black North Carolina golfer and the fearless California attorney general with all the highs and lows inherent to such an undertaking.
Not only is Peter May’s tracking of the chance intersection of Black golf great Charlie Sifford and the first Jew elected statewide in California, attorney general Stanley Mosk, to end golf’s infamous Caucasians-only rule in 1961 revelatory, but it also reminds with interesting recounting from news reports of the day just how ingrained racism was in golf and, disturbingly, how the most celebrated names in the game had refused to engage it.
Foreword by Gary Player, a retired professional golfer who is widely considered to be one of the greatest golfers of all time, having won nine major championships on the regular tour and nine major championships on the Champions Tour.
2/1/24, Choice: This title was included in the “Forthcoming Titles in African American Studies, 2024” roundup.