PGA of America Golf Professionals Remember Dr. Charlie Sifford

February 20, 2024


Jesse Dodson

PGA of America Golf Professionals Renee Powell, Leonard Jones and Kennie Sims draw from Sifford’s legacy to impact today’s game

Editors: For photos of Charlie Sifford, Renee Powell, Leonard Jones and Kennie Sims, click here.

FRISCO, Texas (February 20, 2024) - Dr. Charlie Sifford will forever be known as the man who broke the color barrier in professional golf. In 1961, he became the first African American to earn membership on the PGA Tour (then run by the PGA of America). That was when the PGA of America also struck down its Caucasian-only clause.

Sifford also became the first Black golfer inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, in 2004, and his legacy influenced countless touring professionals, most notably Tiger Woods, who named his son Charlie in his honor. Sifford also influenced the PGA of America Golf Professional—on the lesson tee, in the pro shop and beyond.

The North Carolina native also received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews as a Doctor of Laws in 2006 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 by former president Barack Obama.

At the age of 92, Sifford passed away in 2015. Yet his impact on the game continues to be felt.

As the PGA of America celebrates and honors Black History Month, PGA of America Golf Professionals Renee Powell, Leonard Jones and Kennie Sims reflected on how Sifford’s career motivated their own.

Each has taken notes out of Sifford’s metaphorical yardage book for guidance on how to make golf more accessible.

PGA of America Golf Professional Renee Powell

While Sifford was the first African American member of the PGA Tour, Renee Powell was the first Black woman to become a Member of the PGA of America and the second Black professional to play on the LPGA Tour.

“Knowing the history of Charlie and what he went through in the ‘60s to play on the Tour, I think anyone when they are breaking barriers can always be a role model,” Powell said. “I went to the LPGA Tour in 1967, Charlie was playing on the PGA Tour in 1960, so he was an inspiration. I would talk to Charlie and some of the other African American golf pros and compare notes.”

Powell received the inaugural Charlie Sifford Award in 2022 from the World Golf Hall of Fame, which honors his groundbreaking achievements through perseverance, confidence, respect and adaptability.

PGA of America Golf Professional Leonard Jones

For PGA of America Lifetime Member Leondard Jones of Dallas, Texas, Sifford’s most important lesson was in perseverance.

“Charlie was the type of guy that wouldn’t take no for an answer,” said Jones, the longtime Head Professional at Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas. “What he had to go through, which I experienced some myself, I don't think anybody but him could have done it. He was designated to be the one.”

Jones met Sifford while playing professionally for 12 years, mainly on the United Golf Association (UGA) Tour. In 1986, he became a PGA of America Golf Professional, working as Head Professional of L.B. Houston (now Luna Vista) and Cedar Crest Golf Courses in Dallas.

The Leonard Jones Minority Junior Golf Foundation, which he formed in 1997,  provided access to underprivileged youth to learn, play and work at the two golf courses. He was also instrumental in bringing the First Tee initiative to Dallas at the two facilities he operated.

PGA of America Golf Professional Kennie Sims

Currently the Senior Director of Impact for the PGA of America Reach Foundation, Kennie Sims, PGA, has long been inspired by Sifford’s career.

Sims, a PGA of America Golf Professional since 1998, works to open more doors to the game and the industry through programs such as PGA WORKS. One of the four pillars of the PGA of America REACH foundation, PGA WORKS provides Fellowships, Scholarships and Championships to inspire and engage talent from diverse backgrounds.

“I am honored to be continuing the legacy of Dr. Sifford by working for the PGA of America, the institution he integrated in 1961. I am committed to continuing the work he started by providing equal opportunities for all people, especially those who look like me,” Sims said. “I find great satisfaction in knowing that I am contributing to these programs that align with the challenges Dr. Sifford faced and the courage and bravery he showed. He would be proud of what we are doing.”

For more information on the careers of Powell, Jones and Sims, and their relationship with Sifford, click here.

About the PGA of America

The PGA of America is one of the world’s largest sports organizations, composed of more than 30,000 PGA of America Golf Professionals who love the game, are expert coaches, operators and business leaders, and work daily to drive interest, inclusion and participation in the sport. The PGA of America owns and operates numerous championships and events, including major championships for men, women, seniors and the Ryder Cup, one of the world’s foremost sporting events. For more information, visit and follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

About PGA of America REACH Foundation

The PGA of America REACH Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America. The mission of the Foundation is to positively impact the lives of youth, military and diverse populations by enabling access to PGA of America Golf Professionals, PGA Sections and the game of golf. For more information on the PGA of America REACH Foundation, visit, follow @PGAREACH on Instagram, X, formerly known as Twitter and find us on Facebook.Media Contacts

Jesse Dodson, PGA of America,