Race and Golf: Four BAME golfers discuss their experiences in the sport

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Zane Scotland on his experiences with golf racism

"Horrible racist comments "," not being able to participate in events "," curtains are shaking ".

More than 23 years after Tiger Woods became the first non-white player to win The Masters, racism continues to play a role in golf.

As part of a 5 Live Sports Special on Golf and Racing four BAME people involved in the game shared their experiences .

We hear from professional golfers Maurice Allen from the United States and England's Zane Scotland, as well as the organizer of the annual UK Asian Open Jas Athwal and Golf Channel presenter Damon Hack. ]

& # 39; I experienced racism firsthand on the tour & # 39;

Until 1961, the PGA of America, which brings together golf professionals in the United States, had a membership clause for Caucasian only. On today's PGA Tour, an overwhelming majority of players are white and golf has not left its racist past behind.

All: "It's been everything from not getting into events, to not getting paid to win.

"You hit the ball, people say he's not there, they kicked him out of bounds. People change the distances I've hit – I've seen it all.

"I've never been one to say it's just the way it is. I've always been someone who's going to fight and say something's not right. It could happen to me, but I can assure you that I will submit such a raw file that it will never happen to anyone else again.

"If I go to many of these golf courses, a total of five are black people.

"I've been to many elite golf courses and you too make sure you're the only one playing. Maybe the wait staff or the cart man, especially in the kitchen. did. "

Scotland:" When I started playing golf my dad was the only black man at the club. I was probably a little too young, 11 or 12, to note what would happen if he came in somewhere.

“I've been a professional golfer for about 16 years and in that time I've seen racism from a touring perspective seven firsthand experience that I can remember.

"Because I am a mixed race, many of my contemporaries would not necessarily know that I am half black.

" So made she comments when we were eating out or sitting around the clubhouse. Sometimes terribly racist comments.

"My opinion has always been: I am focused on tournaments. I consider that their problem, their world is much smaller.

“After I leave the table, my friend Ben seems – he always seems to be the person who says to that guy, 'By the way, do you know Zane's daddy's black guy?'

"Of all the times, a man called my room that night to apologize extensively and I respected the fact that he recognized that he had done something wrong and hopefully it changed him so much. to embarrass forever. "

] Zane Scotland has won 10 times on the Dubai-based MENA Golf Tour

Athwal: " I remember it still makes me laugh now when I showed up in a parking lot and the professional came to the car and knocked on my door.

"He said: & # 39 can I help you? & # 39; and I said, "No I get out of my car alone every day".

& # 39; He wouldn't let me get out of my car. He said: & # 39; you & # 39; am not a member & # 39 ;. And I said someone invited me who was a member.

"They had to find that person to confirm that I was there. ]

" Over the years you will come to golf clubs and you see people's curtains shaking and looking out and thinking & # 39; nobody ordered a taxi or take out here, what did this guy show up for? & # 39;

"Those are the barriers. It's very difficult to change that attitude. I don't know what the fear is. All we want is to play golf."

& # 39; Tiger is a gift and a curse & # 39;

Hack: "I can't call this conversation without Tiger Woods. Tiger has been, in some ways, a great gift and a great curse to the game because it puts people on their own. convenience.

"If the best player is of Asian and African American descent, then we are & # 39; is doing great. The game should be incredibly diverse and healthy.

"That's not necessarily the case, it can make people a little lazy.

" Tiger has been candid about his racial neutrality. That's partly because his mother is from Thailand and he didn't want to deny that part of his background. Part of it is his discomfort to stick his head in it, too. issues other than birdies and bogeys.

"Tiger has been consistent in his reluctance to ruffle feathers, cause controversy, take sides. That's what this moment needs, not necessarily taking sides, but in In any case, take a stand. In any case, acknowledge that there are some issues that need to be addressed.

"I won't put it all on Tiger. He told us beforehand that he wouldn't give us much, but that's no excuse for the rest of the golf industry. be more proactive. "

Damon Hack (right) interviews golfer Jordan Spieth (left) for The Golf Channel

Scotland: " It seemed that in 1997 the whole wave had changed because of this one man who was exceptional.

"Twenty three years later it is not as far as we should have it. As always, it is improving, but it needs to be continued.

"There was a great opportunity 23 years ago that was not taken advantage of."

All: " There must be a feeling that Tiger did nothing to help black wave.

"Tiger never set the tone when he arrived on the scene. He did nothing to showcase black wave, help black wave, or even acknowledge the blackness that was inside him.

"If you look at the interview he did about Oprah when he first won he said he was Cablinasian, which included everything and that's true. We are definitely not going to debate who is black.

"To get up and say," I am a black man and I am proud to be a black man and these are the problems we face. when black people are confronted & # 39; I think that could have made a significant difference.

"People like Rory McIlroy, who is very knowledgeable about the culture, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, all these guys got up to say something when the George Floyd incident happened.

"For Tiger, who is a black man, to be one of the last people to say anything, it just didn't make sense.

"Unfortunately for him in this golf game, because you are one of the few to carry you this banner. You don't have the ability to just be yourself. "

Maurice Allen on Renaming the Masters

& # 39; The Masters is played on an old plantation & # 39;

There have been calls for the US Major the Masters to change his name due to the connotations of slavery In American sports several names have changed in recent months, with Washington from the NFL dropped the term & # 39; Redskins & # 39; which is labeled an ethnic slur towards Native Americans.

All: " The problem is this: you can argue what the name means because [tournament co-founder] Bobby Jones doesn't live to tell you what it meant.

"I know the history of the United States. I know the history of Augusta, Georgia. People argue, you control the game.

"But track conditions at the US Open and The Open are much more difficult than at Augusta National.

"Things can evolve and change. There is a lot of power in names. It's more about action. I look more to the long run than just my knees. People actually change their live? "

Hack: " The Masters is basically played on an old plantation. The houses there look like the old south. We have pictures and names in the game that point to another time of life that many want to extend in some way.

"I was always told it was about controlling the game, even know the history of that part of the American South and what happened there.

"For a while, all caddies were black and all players were white."

Scotland: "What would be more exciting would be to see 20-30 black and Asian golfers play the Masters. That would mean a lot more than a name change and a speculative name change because nobody really knows the reason. "

Maurice Allen won the World Long Drive Championship in 2018

& # 39; Get us at the top table, listen to our & # 39;

In the United States, the LPGA recently launched a grant, named after African-American golfer Renee Powell, to golf more black girls. In Britain, the R&A plans to establish a working group on racial diversity, which they believe will receive significant attention and investment.

Scotland: "We have the energy to beat this drum, but it's basically everyone's drum. It would be wrong to think we should do everything. It's for everyone to understand and get on board.

"Golf has moved on. The look my dad would get when he first started. He was the only black man at the golf club.

"Now he's going to his golf club, he's known for his loud pants and gaudy shoes – he's not known as the black man. It's a lot more diverse. It needs to go faster.

"In 20 years from now, we don't want to be anywhere near the situation we are in now. We want to be proud of what we have done in the near future. 10-20 years. It's everyone's problem.

"Why is participation low for young black men and women? We all know now that there are ways to get equipment and accessibility for golf, but who's pushing the button?

"The dress code is a big thing. Let kids wear whatever they want. If they go golfing and they like it at some point, they will dress like Woods, McIlroy and Fowler.

"We can all do our part to help it. Second-hand clothes are everywhere. There are golf balls everywhere. We need to make these things accessible, let people in this game.

"There are five children from my school year who died of knife crime and drugs. I was lucky enough to find golf and it was never a problem. I was taken off it. It's so much more powerful. "

Athwal: " At the end of the day who decides? It's a room full of white people. Why don't the R&A and PGA reach out to people?

"Ask us what we need. What are the barriers? Get us to the top table, listen to us.

" All the things the governing bodies try to do, they do it, but they are doing in a room full of masculine, pale and musty people.

"They need to hug the people they're talking about. They need to have a room full of people of all colors and beliefs and do it from within. Do it from your heart, not as a symbolic gesture. "

Jas Athwal hosts the annual UK Asian Open

All: " There are only four [African-American players] on the PGA Tour. Joseph Bramlett, Cameron Champ, Tiger Woods, Harold Varner III.

"I think that's because there's a lack of respect and recognition within the golf world.


"No one in 2020 recognized Black History Month, but they recognized Pride Month, Women's Sport Month, and all these other different things.

"None of the golf companies have black influencers, they don't exist. Younger children aged 6-13 years old don't see anyone like them. It's very difficult for them to say they want to be.


"There are so many black people out there playing golf. Will Smith just made a video about the golf course that went viral. It's amazing how all these people are embracing this game, but this game doesn't embrace them. "

Hack: " I want to see more people of color on the PGA Tour, but I also want to see more in the hallways of the R&A and in the corridors of the PGA of America.

"The accessibility is not there, the investment in the community is not there.

"It's one thing for us to stay awake at night thinking about these things. The people in power should be as enthusiastic about this as we are.

"This should be just as important to them as picking open locations for the next five years. These issues must be important to people other than the people who look like us.

"Why do Zane, Jas and I need all the answers? Obviously we don't and it can be exhausting. I think it's a global, multicultural, layered attack. needed.

"My default is to be optimistic. I hope this is a movement and not a moment. believe that there are far more allies than we have ever had on complex issues like this. "

The golf and race special will air live on BBC Radio 5 Sunday at 1:00 pm BST. 23 August or you can listen to here.

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