Sifford family donates memorabilia to UMES

  • Friday, June 5, 2015

    Late golf pioneer's keepsakes now housed at UMES 

    Sifford collection - 1PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (June 5, 2015) - The family of the late Charlie Sifford, the African-American who broke the professional golf tour's color barrier in 1961, has entrusted the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to be caretaker of memorabilia from Sifford's playing career. 

    One-of-a-kind items - his personalized golf bag, keepsake pins and badges from tournaments in which he played and the letter from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland informing him he would receive an honorary degree - will be housed at UMES, home to the nation's only PGA-accredited golf management degree program at a historically black university.

    "The university is humbled by this generous gesture that will assist us in keeping Dr. Sifford's legacy at the forefront of people's minds for generations to come - especially our students," UMES President Juliette B. Bell said.

    "I know I speak for our golf management program faculty in saying that having an understanding of the game's history is vitally important to those who follow in Dr. Sifford's footsteps," Bell said.

    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.

    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.

    "Hopefully," Craig Sifford said, "this donation will educate people of all colors, and will continue to motivate and persuade all to take on life's challenges. My father's accomplishments and results speak loudly."

    UMES admitted its first class of golf management students in 2008, and over the past year the undergraduate program has been attracting an increasing amount of interest and financial support.

    The Caves Valley Golf Club Foundation in suburban Baltimore stepped forward in 2014 with a pledge to support a full-ride scholarship that also takes into account high school grades in addition to playing ability.

    After Sifford died in early February, his family suggested in his obituary that those who wanted to pay tribute to him should consider supporting UMES' PGA golf management program.

    PGATour star Tiger Woods, who has long described Sifford as a role model, made a personal donation. It was quickly followed by an identical donation from the PGATour. Those combined gifts of $20,000 launched the Sifford Fund for scholarships. 

    When he played professionalx