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PGA renames prestigious award over links to historic racism

The PGA of America has announced that it is renaming one of its most prestigious accolades in solidarity with the ongoing global campaign to end racial and social injustice.

Effectively immediately, the Horton Smith Award will become the PGA Professional Development Award. It will continue to honour a PGA member for "outstanding contributions to professional development".

The award has been presented since 1965 and was named in honour of Smith, the winner of the inaugural Masters Tournament. 

Smith, in fact, was a two-time champion at Augusta National and racked up an impressive 36 wins in a hugely successful playing career.

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However, he also served as the PGA president from 1952-54 and was a defender of the “Caucasian-only” membership clause, which was included in the PGA Bylaws from 1934-61.

Following a thorough review, the PGA of America has decided to take action.

“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,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley. 

“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. 

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"With the new PGA Professional Development Award, we will recognise effective inclusion efforts and honor those across our 41 PGA Sections who continue to promote and improve our educational programs. We look forward to doing more of both as we move forward.”

The first PGA Professional Development Award will be presented during the PGA’s 104th Annual Meeting in Hartford, Connecticut, at the end of October.


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