Charlie Sifford's Family Donates Memorabilia to UMES - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Charlie Sifford's Family Donates Memorabilia to UMES

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Sifford's shoes Sifford's shoes
Sifford's custom golf bag Sifford's custom golf bag

PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- Charlie Sifford broke the professional golf tour's color barrier in 1961 and his family has now left his memorabilia to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Charlie Sifford was the first African American to play professional golf on the PGA tour. According to Bill Robinson, UMES' Director of Public Relations, Sifford was known as the Jackie Robinson of golf.

Sifford died Feb. 3, three months after being honored at a White House ceremony with a Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Barack Obama. He joined fellow legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as the only professional golfers to be so recognized.

According to university officials, that evening, UMES played host to a Capitol Hill reception in his honor, where nearly two hundred guests met Sifford, posed for pictures and wished him congratulations.

Among those well-wishers was a delegation of PGA golf management students from UMES, who made a favorable impression on the late golfer and his family, according to Sifford's sons.

"We brought a number of our golf management students to meet him, to show him that there are people following in his footsteps, and his whole family was there and apparently they thought very highly of what we were trying to do at UMES," Robinson said.

One of Sifford's most memorable donations were his golf bag and clubs. Sifford also left behind tour badges from when he played in the 1940's and 1950's, tour badges from when he played in the PGA, photographs and newspaper clippings as well as two photographs with tiger woods, some of his clothes, his custom suit when he was inducted into the PGA hall of fame and a picture with 'Sugar Ray Robinson,' the famous boxer.

Robinson says Sifford has had a huge impact on the students in the golf management program.

"I think they have come to realize that somebody came along before them and broke the color barrier and it was difficult for him in the late 1950's early 1960's to play golf at the same level as Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus and these people don't have those barriers anymore," Robinson said.

When he played professionally, Sifford had a corporate sponsor relationship with Toyota, the parent company of Lexus. The luxury vehicle manufactured announced Thursday it is paying tribute to Sifford by establishing a scholarship endowment with a $100,000 donation.

“I'm honored UMES wanted to develop a scholarship in our father's name,” Charles Sifford Jr. told UMES. “My brother and I decided to donate our father's memorabilia to UMES because of the school's dedication to the game of golf by exposing minorities to the game, which is what our father tried to do during his playing career.”

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