By Tim Lacy, Special to the AFRO
I just received news that a good friend has been put on life support. If you are an African-American male and you love golf and grew up in D.C. this story will sadden you also. Back in “the day,” when the color scheme in D.C. showcased the fun places as WHITE ONLY, you had to grab a gang and head out of town to play a round of golf. There was Langston and East Potomac, but those plates, although on the menu, were served cold. Langston was the Mecca for Black golfers, but the reputation served warning that “only the strong survive.”
There were many cases where a golfer got out of sight of the clubhouse and a bandit would approach and relieve you of your watch and cash. A lot of bets were settled in the parking lot through a bout of fisticuffs. East Potomac was run by The U.S. Park Service so there was no color ban. You were allowed to play, but it was obvious you weren’t wanted. Often, waiting time could be up to two hours.
Rock Creek rounded out the big three courses in D.C. Riding down 16th St., one could only look at Rock Creek longingly. The course was open, but the doors were closed for persons of color.
For this reason I wasn’t introduced to golf until I attended school in Rhode Island. We didn’t have a golf team, I just found an old club and a couple of balls in an equipment closet. My introduction to golf lasted only as long as the balls. However, when I was in the military I discovered the driving range. I would sometimes go there and whack away at balls until I raised a blister.
When I returned home, the game of golf was the glue that bonded my dad and me. Rock Creek had dropped the barriers and we played every Sunday and on occasion a week day.
Pop had his gang of seniors, and we would bet a quarter and play nine holes. All of this was done on the front nine. The back nine was a scary story you told kids around a campfire. This nine holes of golf was a separate challenge, but as my game got better the lure of the back nine grabbed me. This challenge came with steep hills, deep valleys and narrow fairways. On some holes the woods were so close, while walking the fairways it was like waiting for Sasquatch to pop out of the trees with a 6 iron in his hands.
Now the back nine is so overgrown and rundown, Tarzan wouldn’t venture back there without a company of Marines.
My Pop has passed, and now THE CREEK is about to join him. It makes me sad.