HARTFORD, Conn. – The Travelers Championship will honor one of its most historic champions with a special golf outing the week of the tournament.
Charlie Sifford will be recognized for being the first African-American to earn a PGA Tour card in 1961 and win one of its tournaments, the 1967 Greater Hartford Open at Wethersfield Country Club. He and Ben Crenshaw also were named the honorees at the Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus in Dublin, Ohio.
The Travelers Championship will host the Charlie Sifford Centennial Celebration Golf Outing at Wethersfield CC on June 21, two days before the start of the tournament at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. The event will recognize the accomplishments of Sifford and generate money to help fund the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Scholarship. The tournament also will posthumously name Sifford as honorary chairperson for this year’s event on June 23-26.
The Travelers Championship is working with Travelers and Skins & Pins to host the outing, whose proceeds will raise money for the Sifford scholarship that will help cover college tuition for students who attend a historically black college or university or for minority students focusing their education on a golf management program.
Thursday June 2 would have been the 100th birthday for Sifford, who died in 2015.
“Charlie Sifford made golf history, and we’re thrilled to celebrate his accomplishments and what he means to the game for such a good cause,” tournament director Nathan Grube said in a release. “Because of everything that Charlie represents and stood for, we believe it’s important to honor his name and memory, especially during this centennial year of his birth.”
Sifford’s pioneering efforts created a pathway for all minority golfers to develop successful careers in professional golf. Similarly, the goal of The Dr. Charles L. Sifford Scholarship is to help support college students who qualify as they pursue their professional career of choice.
The Cobbs Creek Foundation will serve as the fiscal sponsor of The Dr. Charles L. Sifford Scholarship. From its founding in 1916, Cobbs Creek has embraced both Black and women golfers and acted as the home course to Sifford during the time he was a Philadelphia resident.
“The Sifford family is immensely proud and honored that the Travelers Championship is recognizing my father, Dr. Charles L. Sifford, with an exhibition tournament in his name,” Charles Sifford Jr. said. “This tournament is an example of his vision of diversity and inclusion by the golf establishment. The Greater Hartford Open in 1967 was his first PGA Tour victory. This recognition, and others planned during the week, are especially noteworthy during his centennial celebration year honoring my father’s contributions as an African American golfer. We sincerely appreciate all the sponsors for continuing to honor his legacy.”
Sifford was born in Charlotte, N.C., and became the first Black golfer to play on the PGA Tour. In addition to his victory at Wethersfield Country Club, he also won the Los Angeles Open in 1969, then a tournament on the PGA Tour Champions in 1980. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
“Charlie was a trailblazer who holds a special place in the hearts of many golf fans, especially in Connecticut after he won here,” said Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Travelers. “We want golf to be inclusive. We believe in and are committed to diversity in how we operate our company. Recognizing Charlie for all he did, not only in golf but in the pursuit of equality, speaks to that.”
The event at Wethersfield will consist of breakfast, followed by a 9 a.m. shotgun scramble, lunch on the course and a reception after play concludes. The cost is $300 per person, and sponsorship opportunities are available.
The Travelers Championship already has a strong field that includes No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, whose four victories this year include the Masters; No. 5 Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship in a three-hole aggregate playoff with Will Zalatoris; No. 6 Patrick Cantlay, the PGA Tour Player of the Year and FedExCup winner in 2021; No. 8 Rory McIlroy, who finished second in the Masters; No. 11 Xander Schauffele, the Olympic gold medalist; No. 13 Dustin Johnson, the 2020 Travelers champion; No. 14 Will Zalatoris; No.18 Joaquin Niemann; No. 19 Brooks Koepka; and No. 26 Harris English, the defending champion who returned to the PGA Tour this week at the Memorial Tournament for the first time after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip on Feb. 14 and missed the cut. But three-time champion and major tournament supporter Bubba Watson has had to withdraw because he had meniscus preservation surgery last week that will have him on crutches for 8-to-12 weeks.