PGA Removes Horton Smith from Award After Racism Claim; Park Board Examining Situation

After former PGA of America Director of Diversity Wendell Haskins called Greene County native Horton Smith a “racist” in a published piece because of Smith’s support of the PGA’s caucasians-only policy during this term as PGA President, the PGA announced they are stripping Smith’s name from an annual award.

The award, which is given to the PGA members for outstanding contributions to education, will now be called the PGA Professional Development Award.

“In renaming the Horton Smith Award, the PGA of America is taking ownership of a failed chapter in our history that resulted in excluding many from achieving their dreams of earning the coveted PGA Member badge and advancing the game of golf,” PGA President Suzy Whaley wrote in a statement. “We need to do all we can to ensure the PGA of America is defined by inclusion. Part of our mission to grow the game is about welcoming all and bringing diversity to the sport.

Smith was president of the PGA from 1952 to 1954 and backed the PGA’s then-policy of whites only. The PGA had a caucasian-only policy from 1934 to 1961.

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board released a statement today after finding out about the PGA’s action. The Park Board’s Horton Smith Golf Course was opened in 1962.

“We just learned of this news today, and we haven’t had a chance to vet out what it means for us,” Parks Director Bob Belote said in a statement. “Parks facilities are places where we bring people together, where everyone is welcome, and everyone should feel safe among equals. This is information we’ll need to share with the Park Board and investigate further.”

(Headline photo has Horton Smith on the right, shaking hands with Bobby Jones.)

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