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Tue, 05.05.1936

Gordon Brown Sr., Golfer born

Gordon Brown Sr.

*Gordon Brown Sr. was born on this date in 1936. He is a Black Golfer and activist.

From Charleston, South Carolina, he was the oldest of seven children (two boys and five girls) born to McKeever and Ora Lee Brown. He was raised on a farm on James Island, South Carolina, where he was introduced to the game of golf at the age of ten.  He began playing across the farm field and on the local high school ground using clubs that were acquired by older neighbors in the community who worked as caddies. At the age of 15 Brown practiced on a six-hole golf course on the island located near his home.

At age 18 Brown with Ernest Crumbwell, John Cummings, and James Forest went down to the Charleston Municipal Golf Course, which did not allow Blacks to play on their greens. This prompted the legal battle, which Brown was a part of a group who filed a petition against the city of Charleston.  In the interim Brown and his group used the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course was located 110 miles away in North Carolina, three Friday evenings out of the month.

Upon graduation from Bruke Industrial High School, Brown continued to pursue a career in golf.  At the Age of 22, he married Harriet Brown [in 1958]. Four months later he was drafted into the United States Army. While serving a two years term in the Army, Brown met Monroe Nash.  Nash took Brown under his wing and taught him the fundamentals of golf. With dreams of playing professional, he tried out for and made the military golf team in Columbus, Georgia. His status in the military was then changed to Special Service.

After being discharged from the service in 1961, he returned to South Carolina to land a job as a brick mason.  Brown went back to Charleston, where he went on to win his second tournament in Charleston's Naval Ship yard Championship.  He became a member of the American Golf Association, which is an all Black Golf Tour. As a member of this association Brown met and had the opportunity to play with professional celebrities like Pete Brown, Rafe Botts, Willie Brown, Howard Brown, and JD Sanderson and others.  Also in 1961, Brown, a part a United States Army Reserve Unit was recalled to support the "Berlin Crisis"". Shortly after, he was transferred to Camp Leroy Johnson in New Orleans, Louisiana where he won his first "Base Golf Championship" and was immediately transferred to special services again.

In 1962, he moved to California, and found a job and joined a brick mason union. He then joined the paramount Golf Club in San Diego. Paramount is an affiliation of Western States Golf Association. Moving to San Diego proved to be advantages. Brown was a success on the links. He won numerous tournaments as a member of the Western States Golf Association. He won tournaments in Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Las Vegas Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona, as well as San Diego.  He did not turn professional, but Brown won two National Industrial Championships in 1969 and 1971, in Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1964, Brown found employment with Solar Turbines and remained there for 29 years, where he started out as a custodian and in less than two years, became maintenance supervisor. Brown was the first African American to have this position.

His dream of becoming a professional golfer became some what diluted, but his love for the game did not. In 1973, he established the South East San Diego Junior Golf Program, where he began teaching children to golf.  In 1992, he with his son Horace decided to restructure the junior golf foundation under a new name, the San Diego Inner City Junior Golf Foundation a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.

In 1995 the NAACP Charleston Chapter, honored Brown in the state of South Carolina for his role in desegregating Charleston's Municipal Golf Course when he was a teenager.  Brown was one of 14 men honored for their participation in that civil rights struggle which was won in 1962.  After five years of rebuilding, the organization, the new office doors were successfully opened in 1997. The foundation is centrally located and provides free golf lessons complete with golf equipment to all children who want to learn how to play. The foundation also provides meals, transportation to and from the facility and golf tournaments, and accommodations when necessary. The San Diego Inner City Junior Golf Foundation is an outstanding organization providing leadership, personal growth and development, health care and supports parent-child interaction for the child in their community.

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