PRINCESS ANNE — The Sifford Fund, UMES’ new scholarship created to support undergraduates studying PGA golf management, has gotten another boost — this time from the PGA Tour.
The organization of touring golf professionals that operates six tours internationally, has presented a $10,000 donation to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The PGA TOUR designated its gift go to the Sifford Fund acknowledging the passing of Dr. Charlie Sifford, the first black man to play regularly on Tour in the early 1960s alongside some of the game’s greats of that era, including Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
PGA Tour star Tiger Woods made the first individual donation to the Sifford Fund, which the late golfer’s family established as a tribute to his legacy as a sports pioneer. Sifford, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, died Feb. 3 at the age of 92.
“Dr. Sifford was a trailblazer and true role model who displayed tremendous dignity, courage and spirit throughout his career,” said Charlie Zink, Co-Chief Operating Officer of the PGA TOUR.
“He provided inspiration to aspiring players of diverse backgrounds and helped change our sport for the better. We are pleased to help continue his legacy by supporting this wonderful program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and assisting those who are passionate about pursuing a career in the golf industry,” Zink said.
UMES is among 19 universities with a PGA of America-accredited golf management program, where students earn a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field of hospitality-tourism studies with an emphasis on developing golf skills and knowledge of the industry.
“The gift from the PGA Tour, which represents a broad spectrum of golfers walking in the footsteps Dr. Sifford boldly trod many years ago, is an important boost to our program,” UMES President Juliette B. Bell said. “This contribution will help support deserving students in their pursuit of careers in the golf industry.”
UMES is the lone historically black institution offering this unique degree and is making important strides training the next generation of golf industry professionals who will diversify the game.
UMES hosted a reception Nov. 24 on Capitol Hill in Sifford honor following a White House ceremony where he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Sifford, Palmer and Nicklaus are the only golfers to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.
That event, where Sifford and his extended family met UMES students – many of them African-Americans pursuing careers in the golf industry, sparked a conversation about how the university could partner with Sifford to help those inspired by his story.
Motivated by a passage in Sifford’s autobiography, university leaders floated the idea of establishing a named scholarship fund.
“I want golf to reach out to people from all walks of life and to be the sport that puts itself above issues of race and class and economic levels,” Sifford wrote. “We should give everybody equal access to the game, with equal facilities to play and we should give them the same opportunities to pursue the game throughout their lives.”
UMES’ PGA golf management program currently enrolls 44 students, more than half of whom are women and minorities. Upon graduation, they will be positioned for careers in recreational or competitive golf, business, marketing, media and hospitality.
— Mr. Robinsons is director of public relations at UMES.
Bill Robinson is the Director of UMES Office of Public Relations