Golf Pioneer Charlie Sifford Receives Highest Presidential Honor

Charlie Sifford, the first African American to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be awarded to a U.S. citizen.

The 92-year-old was one of 19 individuals honored and presented awards by President Obama at a White House ceremony on Monday. The recipients have made “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Sifford, in 1961, became the first African American to earn a PGA Tour card, which later prompted the PGA of American to drop its “Caucasian-only” clause. He was a key figure in helping to desegregate golf.

Other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Monday included Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, news anchor Tom Brokaw and singer Stevie Wonder.

After getting into golf as a caddie, Sifford won six National Negro Opens and two PGA Tour events, the 1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational and the 1969 Los Angeles Open.

The only other golfers to receive a Medal of Freedom are Arnold Palmer (2004) and Jack Nicklaus (2005).

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Related Link: The Turn: Charlie Sifford & His Signature Cigars

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