Sat, 15 Aug 2020

Eyeing racist past, PGA of America renames Horton Smith Award

Field Level Media
03 Jul 2020, 13:05 GMT+10

The PGA of America renamed the Horton Smith Award on Thursday, acknowledging that the honor's namesake supported the group's "Caucasian-only" policy in the 1950s.

The honor, given to a PGA member for outstanding contributions to professional education, will now be known as the PGA Professional Development Award.

Smith won the inaugural Masters tournament at Augusta, Ga., in 1934, then captured the Masters title again two years later. He served as president of the PGA of America from 1952-54. The "Caucasian-only" clause was in the organization's bylaws from 1934-61.

Multiple media outlets reported that Smith was a defender of the clause.

PGA of America president Suzy Whaley said in a press release, "In renaming the Horton Smith Award, the PGA of America is taking ownership of a failed chapter in our history that resulted in excluding many from achieving their dreams of earning the coveted PGA member badge and advancing the game of golf. We need to do all we can to ensure the PGA of America is defined by inclusion.

"Part of our mission to grow the game is about welcoming all and bringing diversity to the sport. With the new PGA Professional Development Award, we will recognize effective inclusion efforts and honor those across our 41 PGA Sections who continue to promote and improve our educational programs. We look forward to doing more of both as we move forward."

Smith was born in Springfield, Mo., in 1908, and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board's Horton Smith Golf Course was named in his honor.

The Park Board director Bob Belote said Thursday in a statement, "We just learned of this news today, and we haven't had a chance to vet out what it means for us. Parks facilities are places where we bring people together, where everyone is welcome, and everyone should feel safe among equals. This is information we'll need to share with the Park Board and investigate further."

Smith served as a club pro at Detroit Golf Club from 1946 until his death in 1963 at age 55. Coincidentally, the PGA Tour is playing the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club this week.

--Field Level Media

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