By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
A round of golf is usually just a round of golf. Of course a guy like Tiger Woods can make a lot of money at it. But for most players it's just a pleasant, if rather expensive, pastime. Once in a great while, though, a game of golf becomes an act of rebellion, so much so that it even catches the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court. Take, for instance, the morning of Monday, April 12, 1949. Seven men drove to the eighteen-hole Miami Springs Country Club, then owned by the City of Miami, and strode into the clubhouse. It was a perfect day, and they were eager to walk the links. Some in the group had spent most of the previous week working as caddies around town and were eager for the chance to play. But on this day, there would be no teeing off for them. Negroes weren't allowed on the course. And all seven, including the two lawyers, were black.
They had expected some kind of rebuff. The trip to the club was, in fact, a well-planned challenge to Miami's segregation laws. The men insisted on speaking to the course superintendent, a thin white sexagenarian and retired police officer named H.H. "Hunk" Arnold. He invited them into his office, and they sat down to talk. Arnold said he understood their disappointment about the rule that excluded blacks and that he wasn't responsible for it, but the law was the law. So Joseph Rice, a caddie by profession, informed the course superintendent that two of his companions were attorneys. If the group couldn't play golf, they just might have to sue.
Arnold asked the men to wait while he left the room and placed a call to Miami City Attorney John Watson, Jr. When he returned he told Rice and his golf party that they were indeed free to play. He called over to the starter's shack near the first tee and instructed the attendant to let the group through. But when the men arrived at the shack window, the starter informed them they couldn't play after all. They were, he said, in violation of another course rule. Each player must have his own bag of clubs. The group had only one set, which they'd planned to share. They told the employee they'd come back the next day and headed home, chiding themselves for not foreseeing this hitch.
The next day Rice and several of his friends returned and played. John Johnson and Grattan Graves, the two lawyers, missed out on the game. They were back at work in their Overtown offices. Blacks were on the course every day that week: six on Wednesday, twelve on Thursday, fifty-two on Friday. (They also were requesting tee times at Bayshore Golf Course, operated by the City of Miami Beach, but were refused admission there.) Chalk up a victory for civil rights several years before the bus boycotts, lunch-counter protests, and school battles of the Fifties sparked a national movement against segregation. But not so fast. The following week Arnold delivered a piece of bad news: The municipal rules had changed again. Negroes could play, but only on Mondays. So on Tuesday the black golfers returned to the course, and the superintendent turned them away.
The controversy caught the attention of the local press. In an April 20, 1949, story in the Miami News, Arnold said he might cut the Negroes' one day to a half-day if they failed to turn out sufficiently to make up for the club's loss in revenue. Since Negroes had begun to play at the course, he claimed, the number of white golfers had dropped 50 percent.
"The city officials just changed their minds," says Johnson, now 86 years old. "Without consulting with these individuals who were out there seeking admission, they decided that one day was enough." But one day a week was not enough for Rice and other black golfers, especially because they, like all Miamians, paid taxes to maintain the city-owned course. Thus was born Rice v. Arnold.
Black Americans became involved in golf soon after the Scottish sport took root in the United States in the late 1800s. In Southampton, Long Island, in 1891, for example, a young boy named John Shippen worked with other black and Native American construction workers to help build one of the nation's first golf courses, Shinnecock Hills. Shippen was later hired as a caddie and learned to play. Just sixteen years old in 1896, the teenager created a stir among pro-segregation whites when he entered the second U.S. Open, which was held at Shinnecock. He tied for fifth place. Three years later a black dentist named George Grant patented the first wooden tee.
During the early decades of the Twentieth Century, mostly in Northern states after World War I, growing numbers of blacks showed up at public courses, often facing restrictions. But across the South, including Dade County, blacks were allowed on courses only as caddies or maintenance workers.
As a young man, John Johnson, who later would file Joseph Rice's lawsuit against the Miami Springs public golf course, had no interest in the sport. "It was a white man's game back then," he recalls. And more often than not, a wealthy white man's game. Johnson's parents, who migrated from the Bahamas to Key West just before 1900 and moved to Colored Town (later called Overtown) in 1903, were neither rich nor white. Nonetheless they were familiar with life in high society's margins. His mother worked as a maid. His father had worked as a construction worker in the Twenties at James Deering's Vizcaya estate and a maintenance man at William Jennings Bryan's Villa Serena on Brickell Avenue. John, his three brothers, and his father were among the first blacks to deliver papers for the Miami Herald.
Johnson was ten years old when the Miami Springs course, built by developer and aviation magnate Glenn Curtiss, opened with nine holes in 1923. A year later, amid great fanfare, Abe Mitchell won the first (and whites only) Miami Open there. As a teenager at Booker T. Washington High School in Overtown, Johnson participated in numerous extracurricular activities: He served on the student council, sang in a quartet, drummed in the band, played baseball, and edited the school paper. He had no interest in golf, though.
But many young blacks, especially those across town in Coconut Grove, found work as caddies and fell in love with the sport. One of them, Joseph Delancey, was about ten years old when he began caddying at the Biltmore Country Club in Coral Gables in the late Twenties. He carried clubs for a white man named Joe Roach, a Coral Gables
resident who employed the boy's aunt as a maid. Now age 81 and widely known by his nickname, Roach (after the man he caddied for), Delancey also remembers caddying at the private Miami Country Club, located northwest of downtown, near the present site of Jackson Memorial Hospital. He recalls that Ku Klux Klan members would sometimes steal on to the club's fairways and hold their nighttime initiation ceremonies, replete with burning crosses.
By the time Delancey reached his teens, he was hooked on golf and played at the Miami Country Club, where black caddies were allowed to tee off on Mondays, when the course was closed for maintenance. Developer Hawley Russell also allowed caddies to play a few times a week at the Riviera, a private nine-hole course he created when the Biltmore sold half of its 36-hole complex during the Great Depression. "The way [Russell] used to save money is, he'd let the caddies take care of the golf course," Delancey remembers, "and they'd rake the traps and cut around the greens, do whatever. And then they'd get a chance to play. So he didn't have to pay them."
Some kids found other places to whack away. Sidney Wynn, who began caddying at age ten on the Biltmore and Miami Springs courses in the mid-Thirties, remembers teeing off on a grassy playground (known today as Armbrister Park) near Carver High School on Grand Avenue in the Grove. "We didn't have but one club, maybe two or three balls," recalls Wynn, a 75-year-old retired director of Arcola Lakes Park.
But for the most part, blacks couldn't golf at the area's four public courses, including Miami Springs. "It's something you wanted to do, but with the trends of the time, you just went along with the program," says Delancey.
Of course fairways weren't the only locales forbidden to blacks. Beginning in the Twenties, it was illegal for them to travel in much of Dade County without a pass from an employer. Laws also barred blacks from the beaches and many stores, restaurants, nightclubs, and other establishments. So in 1938, when he was just sixteen, Delancey headed north, yearning for adventure and freedom from segregation. (That same year, at Miami Springs, Sam Snead won the all-white Miami Open, the predecessor of the Doral-Ryder Open.) The teenager moved to Mamaroneck, New York, and found work caddying at Winged Foot Golf Club in wealthy Westchester County.
"It was the same thing you was doing here; only thing, it was more liberal. You could play golf up there at a golf course," he explains. "Here you couldn't play." After work he and other black caddies would head out to the municipal courses, where green fees cost 75 cents.
John Johnson, who spent much of the Thirties teaching at Goulds Junior High School in South Dade, also went north. After a failed attempt to find work at a Ford factory in Detroit in 1939, he applied to Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., and enrolled in 1940. He paid the bills by working as a statistical analyst at the Pentagon during World War II and, in 1943, married his college sweetheart, Johnalie Dennis. And he met Grattan Graves, a classmate at Howard, who was born in southern Virginia and raised in D.C.
At the urging of NAACP directors, Graves moved to Miami in 1946, intent on combatting the city's segregation laws. Johnson and his wife followed a year later. The lawyers set up separate practices in offices in an Overtown building where Johnson's brother, Samuel, operated a radiology clinic. In 1947 Graves and Johnson joined forces and threatened to sue the city unless blacks were allowed to attend the Orange Bowl. City officials obliged by erecting a segregated set of bleachers. The following year Graves challenged a city plan to relocate hundreds of black residents from Overtown to make way for white-owned downtown businesses. This time he lost, but the lawyers moved on to other battles. "He was a very hard worker, conscientious worker ... very brilliant," Johnson says of Graves, who died in 1992 at age 72. "If he knew that the law was behind him, he didn't mind letting you know."
Soon, at the prompting of Joseph Rice, they were letting Hunk Arnold know they had no qualms about going to court against his segregated golf course. Sidney Wynn, among other blacks, was pleased to see the agitation. He'd returned to caddying after two and a half years in the U.S. Army during World War II. His game had improved dramatically during his military tour; he had golfed often while stationed in England and California, and he was itching to play.
Throughout the South in the Forties, it was par for the course for white men like Arnold to keep blacks off the public links, not to mention out of segregated schools, stores, and restaurants. But it was still uncommon for black men in Dade County to sue over such matters. A week after the Tuesday snubbing at the Miami Springs golf course, Graves and Johnson took up the cause of Joseph Rice in Dade County Circuit Court. In their complaint dated April 27, 1949, they argued that their client had a right to use the course whenever it was open to the public. The presiding judge was Charles Carroll, a Harvard Law School graduate, World War I pilot, and former Coast Guard legal officer. He ordered Miami City Attorney John Watson, Jr., who represented Arnold, to allow Rice to play "during all of the hours in which the said course is open to the public," or to show cause why not. Watson submitted an argument several days later, maintaining that integration of the golf course would result in a revenue drop since many white players would stop playing there. Indeed many had already gone to other courses, he claimed.
The lawyers returned to court for the final ruling a few weeks later. Judge Carroll accepted the city's argument and backed the one-day-for-blacks rule.
Ignoring death threats phoned to their offices and homes, Graves and Johnson pressed on to meet the deadline for an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. "We didn't have secretaries," he sighs. "We worked all day one Saturday until about ten o'clock that night. Then we came back the next morning and worked until about three o'clock in the afternoon." The main post office at First Street and Third Avenue was open until 4:00 p.m. on Sundays back then, and they raced over and sent their briefs off to Tallahassee.
Several months later, with money donated by outraged blacks, Johnson, Graves, and Rice took the train to the state capitol for a hearing before the Florida Supreme Court. "I'll never forget when I got up," recalls Johnson. "Supreme Court Justice Alto Adams, who later ran for governor, put this question to me. He said, 'Now, sir, the City of Miami has come forth with this argument that if blacks were allowed to use the course at all times, just like anyone else, they would lose green fees. What do you have to say about that?' And I said, 'Your Honor, it all depends what we are interested in. Now if we are interested in filling the coffers of the City of Miami, it probably has some merit. But on the other hand, if we are interested in recognizing and doing something about the relative rights of all the citizens, they don't have any argument.'"
On March 24, 1950, the justices upheld the Dade court's decision. "It is argued that the adopted rule avoids a clash of the two races," wrote Justice Roy Chapman. "It appears that if the Negroes are permitted the use of the course with the white golfers, then the white golfers will not patronize the course. The green fees paid by the Negro golfers are insufficient to support and maintain the course." The justice concluded, "It does not appear by the record that one-day allotment of the facilities of the course to the Negroes discriminated against the Negro race.... If an increased demand on the part of the Negro golfers is made to appear, then more than one day each week will be allotted."
Johnson and Graves concluded they'd made a tactical error by suing in state court. "After we thought about it some days later, we realized we should have gone into federal court because in federal court, judges are appointed for life," he says. "They would have been much more liberal, I'm sure, in their ruling because they wouldn't have to worry about an electorate and such."
It looked as though their efforts to liberate Miami Springs Country Club were doomed. But word of Rice v. Arnold had made its way to New York City, to the desk of the special counsel of the NAACP, 42-year-old Thurgood Marshall, who would be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. "The NAACP knew about this case," says Johnson. "It was a novelty because we hadn't had a case like this against a municipality or state, insofar as recreation and sports are concerned."
Graves and Johnson had never met Marshall, but within weeks he was sitting in front of them at the Overtown offices, and they were briefing him on the case. "Thurg was very calm," Johnson remembers. "He was a very matter-of-fact individual because he knew exactly what he was doing before the courts. He was cool, calm, and collected. He was all of that."
With Marshall's encouragement the Miami lawyers filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. Again they raised donations to help pay for 50 copies of their brief, which were required by the high court. Neither Graves nor Johnson was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar and therefore neither was authorized to argue before it. A 32-year-old NAACP lawyer, Franklin Williams, a native of Queens, New York, who had studied law at Fordham University, would appear on behalf of Joseph Rice. (Williams, who died in 1990, was appointed U.S. ambassador to Ghana in the Sixties.)
But Williams wouldn't get a chance to argue the case. On October 16, 1950, the justices remanded it to the Florida Supreme Court, ordering the court to reconsider its ruling in light of two decisions the U.S. Supreme Court had handed down earlier that year. One reversed a Texas decision that justified barring a black man from the University of Texas Law School because a similar state institution existed for blacks. The other reversed a state court decision that allowed the University of Oklahoma to confine black students to designated areas in classrooms, libraries, and cafeterias. NAACP lawyers had brought both cases.
Nearly a year passed before the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling, once again affirming Judge Carroll's decision. In a 4-2 majority opinion issued in August 1951, Associate Justice Hugh Taylor wrote that the Texas and Oklahoma cases differed fundamentally from Ricev. Arnold, because education differs fundamentally from golf. "We take judicial notice that the game of golf is of such a nature that it requires the maintenance of links which cover a considerable area and that it can be played by persons alone or in very small groups," he wrote. "There are of necessity some, but limited, contacts between the various groups so playing, particularly around the clubhouse and starting tees. The purpose and function of the game is to obtain the pleasure and exercise incident to the playing, and the rivalry and association between persons who arrange in advance to play together. The exercise, the rivalry , and the association are not enhanced by the other persons who may, on the same day or during the same hours, elect to enjoy the facilities. This is quite different from an educational institution."
The state justices also relied on an 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision maintaining that racial discrimination on a Louisiana train was constitutional as long as the segregated accommodations were equal. The Dade County Circuit Court had apparently concluded the scheduling system at the Miami Springs course fit the bill. Further, they noted, segregation was legal in Miami.
In March 1952 the U.S. Supreme Court took another look at Rice v. Arnold. The justices let the Florida court's reconsidered ruling stand, following a precedent of not interfering with lower court decisions upholding segregated recreational facilities. Rice's case would not be the one to drive the separate-but-equal doctrine into the water trap of history. But Rice v. Arnold had begun to chip away at segregation on the Miami Springs links. "Joe Rice, he's the man," says Joseph Delancey. "He's the one who started it all, about if you pay taxes for the parks, you should be able to play on the golf course."
Rice, who at age twelve began golfing in Delray Beach with a club made from a bicycle handlebar, says he believed such logic would easily win over the justices. "I thought the lawsuit would be a walkover for us. I didn't expect to have to fight it that much," says the 79-year-old, who has lived in Stamford, Connecticut, since 1957. "[Authorities] said one day for blacks and six days for whites was equal. We told them, 'Well then, we don't want equal; we want the same.'"
The U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brownv. Board of Education decision finally found the separate-but-equal doctrine to be in violation of the Constitution. The ruling against the Topeka, Kansas, school board became the catalyst for a decade of court cases aimed at abolishing segregation, not only in public schools but also at recreational facilities. In subsequent decisions the high court invoked the same legal reasoning to open up segregated beaches, parks, and golf courses throughout the South. In 1955, in the case of Holmes et al. v. Atlanta, the court ruled in favor of desegregating public golf courses. But in Dade County, authorities delayed enforcing the ruling. Blacks who wanted to golf still had to settle for Mondays, with few exceptions.
But pressure to open up Miami Springs was mounting. One factor was that more and more middle-class blacks, especially Northerners, began to vacation in South Florida. "Rich black people with money started coming," says Delancey. "So if it rained on Mondays, they didn't have no chance to do what they wanted to do. So they wanted to know whether they was first-class citizens or not. They would say, 'Why can't I play every day? I got a million dollars.'" Then in 1953 Ray Mitchell, the founder of the North-South Tournament, the biggest black-sponsored golf competition in the nation, relocated the amateur contest from Jacksonville to the Miami Springs course. During those tournaments 200 or more blacks played all week long.
But Joe "Roach" Delancey wasn't around to witness those changes. He'd settled in New York, far from his hometown where racism intruded on something so simple as golf. "It was mind over matter, I guess," he says. "No use goin' [back South]. You can't do what you wanted to do." In 1949, after working for four years as an assistant and golf tutor for world middleweight boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson, he moved from Mamaroneck to St. Louis. A year later he moved to Southern California and opened a retail clothing business. He never stopped golfing.
During the Forties and early Fifties, Delancey played in tournaments sponsored by the United Golf Association (UGA), which had been established in the Twenties by black golfers in the Northern states. He won UGA national tournaments in 1953, 1954, and 1955, in Kansas City, Dallas, and Detroit respectively. But he was unable to challenge the champions of the nation's largest golf organization, the United States Golf Association (USGA). The USGA didn't bar blacks, but many clubs that hosted USGA tournaments did. As a result Delancey couldn't compete in enough tournaments to qualify for the nation's biggest and most prestigious competition for nonprofessionals, the USGA Amateur Championship.
Moreover Delancey couldn't hope to play in the U.S Open, which accepts both amateurs and pros, because the USGA then required (and still demands) entrants to belong to a golf club. And during that period, Delancey could not find a club where he lived -- in St. Louis and Los Angeles -- that allowed black members. The professional echelon was out of reach because the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) still had a whites-only rule, though blacks could play in some PGA "invitationals" at integrated clubs. (Facing lawsuits by state attorneys general from across the United States, the PGA dropped the exclusionary rule in 1961.)
Delancey's game kept improving, though, and he competed as an amateur in PGA tournaments such as the Los Angeles and San Diego opens, as well as the independently run Tam O'Shanter Open in Chicago. Finally in 1956, at age 38, he was allowed to join a municipal golf club in Encino, California, and was able to establish an official handicap, a requirement for entering USGA championships. That year, at Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco, he became the first black to make it into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament, one of the most prestigious competitions for nonprofessionals. (In 1959 Bill Wright, a Seattle golfer, became the first black to win the Public Links.)
South Florida lagged in its response to the Supreme Court rulings regarding education and recreation. In 1956 local black groups, including the Miami chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality, filed several lawsuits to desegregate Dade County schools. "Every other night or so, someone would call and say, 'Nigger, get out of town. Cut out this foolishness. You know better,' all this kind of stuff," recalls 77-year-old John O. Brown, then the local CORE president. "Your life was in danger when you got into any of these battles to desegregate any facet of life."
Attorney Grattan Graves, who also was suing to end segregated public bus seats, filed another lawsuit in 1957 to quash the Mondays-only rule at the Miami Springs course. When he received a letter signed by the Ku Klux Klan, warning him not to continue his legal battle, he hired a white informant to infiltrate a KKK meeting. The undercover operation led to the arrest of Klan members plotting an arson attack on a black family that had moved into a white area. "Things were dangerous around here," Graves recalled in a 1988 documentary series, Legacy, produced for WLRN-TV (Channel 17). (In 1957 Johnson was serving as the second black judge on Miami's Negro Municipal Court, a black-controlled tribunal set up in 1950 in Overtown. He chose not to participate in the golf course lawsuit, he says, because it would have been a conflict of interest.) As a result of the lawsuit, officials relented and dropped the Mondays-only rule at Miami Springs and other public courses.
Delancey still lived in California but was returning to South Florida often to golf, especially for the North-South Tournament, which had been permanently moved to Miami Springs. He won the competition four years straight, from 1957 to 1960. Although the tournament was predominantly black, he says, a few white players competed. "I haven't been to a black tournament yet," he says, "where they would tell a white player he couldn't play, or any player. He'd just sign up."
Delancey turned pro in 1956, but he was 43 years old by the time the PGA dropped its whites-only rule in 1961. Charlie Sifford, the premier black professional at the time, was age 39. Older black players, such as Ted Rhodes and Bill Spiller, who could have competed at the upper echelon of the PGA, went down in history as members of golf's lost generation. Everyone lost track of Joseph Rice.
Golf is just golf, but sometimes if you look closely enough, it is a reflection of society. Look at the public courses in Miami-Dade County today and you'll see fairways and greens among the most racially integrated in the nation. The Miami Springs course has been particularly subject to change recently; the clubhouse was renovated last year, the starter's shack is gone, and financially strapped City of Miami turned the course over to the City of Miami Springs in 1998.
Sidney Wynn, who caddied here as a child, stands on stiff arthritic legs on a recent Monday, preparing to tee off at hole 4 with three other members of the Miami Golf Connection, a club he founded in 1983. Most of the 35 members are black, but a few whites also belong. "Only one guy can beat me: Tiger Woods," he intones with false bravado, as he lines up his driver. He hits an arrow-straight ball, which falls far short of where he would have put it in his prime. Wynn played shortstop and third base for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League back in 1952 and says he also endured racism in that sport. Questioned about whether he has encountered bigotry on the links since the Eighties, he searches for an example. When he comes up with one, its ambiguity is telling. "We'd be playing slow and a white group would be behind us yellin'. That's about it," he notes.
John Carter, a 52-year-old retired mail carrier, is Wynn's golf partner. They're playing against Val Williams, a 79-year-old retired custodian supervisor for Miami-Dade Public Schools, and Herbert Bertha, a physician from Chicago who spends winters in Miami. They've got a little money on the match. At the end of the round, each team will pay the other 50 cents per par, and a dollar per birdie. Out on the fairway, Williams is preparing his second shot, which will have to be very long to make it to the green. He swings and, astoundingly, the ball hits a short wooden post, ricochets, and lands behind him. The men chuckle in amazement. "That's a one-in-a-million shot," marvels Carter.
On his next stroke, Wynn hits an excellent seven-iron that arcs on to the green. "Slow down, ball! Slow down, ball!" he yells. It rolls past the flag a few feet. "I'm startin' to loosen up," he says.
At the tee for par-three hole 5, Wynn points toward a tree-lined street that borders the eastern edge of the course. A Miami Springs patrol car passes. "Policemen used to come in and park over there by those trees and watch us," he recalls. "They'd just sit there while we'd tee off." Back then he viewed it as subtle harassment. But nowadays he has other, more universal concerns. "I used to pop this game," he says with a sigh, still sitting in the golf cart. "Age caught up with me." He climbs out, walks on tender knees to the tee, and positions his club. "Put this right by the flag, please," he says. He cracks a high, straight drive and watches the ball's trajectory. It plops right onto the green and comes to rest a few feet from the cup.
Outside the clubhouse 71-year-old Ray Thornton is ruminating on race relations at the Miami Springs course, where he's been playing since 1958. "You had rednecks and you had blacks here, but we all got along," he insists. "Just like today you've got blacks and rednecks, and we all get along."
Joe Delancey moved back to Miami in 1980 and today teaches golf at International Links Miami, formerly known as the Melreese Golf Course, near Miami International Airport. One of his protégées is Paula Tucker, a 43-year-old Opa-locka native and another trailblazer on the amateur circuit, where few black women compete. Two years ago she quit a high-paying, stressful job as a partner in a black-owned brokerage firm in Atlanta to dedicate herself to golf. "I reached the point in my life where making money was not as important as enjoying myself and having fun," she explains. "The stress of the business almost killed me. I needed to do something that was going to be fun for a while."
Currently Tucker is one of the top amateur golfers in the United States. In January she and Yvette Hemphill, another South Floridian, were the only two black women to play at the International Four-Ball Tournament at Orangebrook Country Club in Hollywood, Florida. That contest is one of the four most important competitions in the nation for female amateurs.
But sometimes she still feels a gust of that chilly racist wind that once blew hard across Southern fairways. She recalls an incident two years ago at an USGA amateur tournament in Georgia. One contestant, a white woman from the Peach State, dropped out of the competition because she was assigned to ride in the same golf cart as Tucker. "Can you imagine?" she says. "I have to deal with people who don't want me to be out there. Let me tell you, I've had some women who have been so cruel and said some things. And it's not always so much what they say; it's the looks you get.
"And," she adds, "I've also had some women who have been just wonderful because they know how difficult it is, and they've just kind of embraced me and said, 'It's okay, you're going to be okay.' So had it not been for these players who have really encouraged me to play, there's no way I would continue to do this."
She feels more at home in all-black tournaments, but Delancey is pushing her toward the tougher competitions, which are still the province of whites. "I play a lot of tournaments, and Joe's trying to get me to change from that chitlins-circuit mentality," she continues. "There are a lot of black tournaments in the South.... He's trying to get me to compete against the white girls. Because it's different. I'm new to golf. They've been competing all their lives. They've played in country clubs, in high school, in college."
Tucker also teaches alongside Delancey at classes sponsored by his Minority Junior Golf Foundation, aimed at giving black city kids a chance to learn the sport. And she consults for First Tee, a similar program funded by the City of Lauderhill in Broward County. The reason for doing so, she points out, is the same reason City Attorney John Watson argued for keeping blacks out in 1949: economics. "If you think about it, it just makes good business sense because the future of golf is with the youth," she says. "Tiger Woods has proven that. Everybody's wanting to play golf now. So the more people they can get playing golf, the more money they're going to make down the road.... All the minorities that have been kept away from golf, they're going to college now, they're making the big salaries, and they're the ones in the future that are going to spend three or four thousand dollars on golf equipment and playing on the golf courses that they're now starting to build so many of."
The goal, she says, is to make golf look more like the world.