Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nicklaus Turns into Bogeyman on Blacks in Golf

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nicklaus Turns into Bogeyman on Blacks in Golf

Article excerpt

We rr are four years removed from the Shoal Creek upheaval, which led to a quiet revolution in one of America's last bastions of white supremacy, the private golf clubs. In truth, we may have made no progress at all.

At least, no progress in attitude based on distressing remarks made by one of golf's primary spokesmen, Jack Nicklaus. He was in Whistler, British Columbia, at Green Lakes Golf Club, a course he designed, when a reporter from The Province, a daily newspaper in Vancouver, asked him about the paucity of African-Americans in golf. Nicklaus' answer was, "Blacks have different muscles that react in different ways."

That was racist. That was an ugly blunder. Blacks hear insensitive comments every day while living in a white world. But you don't expect to hear something like this from one who across the passage of time appeared to be even-handed and insightful while establishing himself as the game's greatest player.

Nicklaus stepped into territory previously trampled by Al Campanis and Jimmy The Greek, who disgraced themselves with thoughtless, foolish racial statements.

Muscles? Did I miss something? Has Nicklaus acquired a medical degree?

The issue of few minorities in golf is not muscles. It is access. How many inner-city kids get the opportunity to be introduced to golf?

Racism is a disease. When people in the spotlight, such as Nicklaus, say discriminatory things, I can only conclude that America is beset with a sickness that isn't healing.

Nicklaus' comments are an affront to the memory of Arthur Ashe, who chipped away at injustice guided by a belief that through gentle persistence, doors would open for blacks in sports as well as in all walks of life. Ashe believed the smallest crumb was better than nothing at all.

I ask, how are we going to wipe out this disease when someone such as Nicklaus - who apparently isn't as enlightened as I thought - believes what he believes? He employed the line that many do when they wish they hadn't said what they did. He said his remarks were taken out of context.

But when asked if those who carry the highest profile in golf could have helped remove the whiteness in the game by refusing to play at clubs that barred minorities, he said, "I don't buy that. …

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