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*“Tup” Holmes was born on this date in 1917. He was a Black amateur golfer.
Alfred F. “Tup” Holmes was born in East Point, Ga., graduated from Booker T. Washington High in Atlanta in 1933, and earned a degree from Tuskegee Institute in 1939. Holmes excelled as a young amateur golfer. In college, he won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference three times.
He also captured the Black-only Southern Amateur title three times and was the National Negro Amateur Champion four times. After being denied the opportunity to play a round at Bobby Jones Golf Course in 1951, Holmes and his family were instrumental in obtaining the right for Blacks to play golf on City of Atlanta public golf courses.
They subsequently brought suit against the city, and the case wound its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose final ruling would end segregation of the City’s courses and eventually lead to desegregating all City of Atlanta public places. The first ruling in the case, in Federal District Court in Atlanta, was that Blacks could play on city public courses but only on certain days. The family appealed the verdict, and a federal appellate court upheld the district court’s decision. Holmes obtained assistance from Thurgood Marshall, then a Baltimore attorney. In the family’s next appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It struck down the original ruling by the district court, sending the case back to the original judge with instructions to end segregation on the City’s courses. On December 23, 1955, “Tup” Holmes, his brother, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and friends Charles T. Bell, T.D. Hawkins and E.J. Peterson played golf at North Fulton Golf Course, thus legally breaking the color barrier on Atlanta’s public golf courses. Alfred F. “Tup” Holmes died of cancer on December 16, 1967. His family and the City of Atlanta joined together to dedicate a golf course in his honor in 1983, the Alfred “Tup” Holmes Memorial Golf Course in Adams Park on the site of a Civil War battlefield.
Holmes was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Among family and friends in attendance at the ceremony was 91-year-old Charles Bell, a member of the 1955 ground-breaking fivesome. Holmes made an immeasurable impact on the game by virtue of his leadership in opening Atlanta’s golf courses to Black citizens, which became an important step for equality in the sport.