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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 golf at age ten.  He began playing across the farm field and on the local high school ground using clubs that older neighbors acquired 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 in which Brown was a part of a group that filed a petition against the city of Charleston.  In the interim, Brown and his group used the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course 110 miles away in North Carolina, three Friday evenings out of the month.

Upon graduation from Burke Industrial High School, Brown continued to pursue a career in golf.  At 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 professionally, 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 Shipyard Championship.  He became a member of the American Golf Association, 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, JD Sanderson, and others.  Also in 1961, Brown, a part of the 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, found a job, and joined a brick mason union. He then joined the paramount Golf Club in San Diego. Paramount is an affiliation of the Western States Golf Association. Moving to San Diego proved to be advantageous. 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, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Nevada, Phoenix, Arizona, and 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 as a custodian and became a maintenance supervisor in less than two years. Brown was the first African American to have this position.

His dream of becoming a professional golfer became somewhat 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 participating in the civil rights struggle won in 1962.  After five years of rebuilding, the organization's 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, and health care. It supports parent-child interaction for the child in their community.

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