Solomon Hughes Sr.

Solomon Hughes Sr., an African-American professional golfer born in Gadsden, Alabama, was a winning player on the United Golfers’ Association circuit in the 1930s and 1940s. The UGA was formed for Black golfers in the 1920s who were barred from playing on the segregated PGA tournament circuit. Hughes won the 1935 National Negro Open at the age of 26, and would add more UGA wins throughout his career, including the Joe Louis Open, the Midwest Open and the Des Moines Open in 1945. After relocating his family to Minneapolis, he and Ted Rhodes entered the 1948 St. Paul Open but were refused the opportunity to participate due to pressure by the PGA on local sponsors. At the time, the PGA of America had a “Caucasians only” clause, a relic from segregation-era racial laws. A few years later, Hughes and Rhodes participated alongside white professionals at the 1952 St. Paul Open, becoming the first professional Black players to compete in a PGA event. Thanks to the efforts of Joe Louis, who put a spotlight on the discriminatory practice, the PGA of America struck the clause in 1961. Because of Hughes’ trailblazing efforts in dismantling segregation in golf, a path was cleared for the likes of Rhodes, Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe and Tiger Woods to compete on what is now the PGA Tour. Hughes, who passed away in 1987, was credited with opening the clubhouse at Hiawatha Golf Course to African-American golfers who had been denied access due to segregation. The clubhouse was renamed in his honor in 2022. 

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