Ceremony for Pete Brown at Falconhead Resort well done by all

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Above: Jim and Barbara Sessions with Margaret Brown and member David Wheat at a ribbon cutting for the Life and Times of Pete Brown exhibit at the Turner’s Lodge Golf Club.

I was honored Wednesday to attend the 60th anniversary celebration commemorating Pete Brown’s victory in the 1964 Waco Turner Open at Falconhead Resort in Burneyville. Brown’s victory was the first by an African-American on the PGA Tour and blacks were not able to play on the tour until just two years prior due to the PGA of America’s Caucasian Only clause in its charter.

The ceremony had a list of illustrious speakers including representatives of the PGA of America and the USGA. Brown’s widow Margaret offered some touching remembrances. Jim Dent, who competed with Brown on the PGA Tour and faced many of the same racial issues, spoke as well as journalist Peter May, who recently completed a book “How Charlie Sifford and Stanley Mosk Integrated the PGA” that was reviewed in the April-May issue of Golf Oklahoma. Jay Upchurch, the last journalist to interview Brown, talked about how he made an up-and-down par on the tough uphill par-3 18th to pull off the historic victory. Another author who knew Brown well, Ramona Harriet, has a new book out “A Missing Link in History, The journey of African Americans in Golf” was there to share her stories of Brown.

The program to honor Brown was superb as is the museum inside the pro shop which honors Brown and tells the story of the two LPGA Tour events and the four PGA Tour events held after the course was opened in 1958 and owned by the rather eccentric duo of Waco and Opie Turner.

All of it is the brainchild of club historian Barbara Sessions, who deserves full credit for the museum, the ceremony and all the illustrious guests who attended. And it was evident from Sessions and all the other members we met how much pride remains in the course and its unique history.

Left to right, author Ramona Harriett and Margaret Brown.

It was our first look around at the course where the best players in the world congregated to play golf and then compete just as hard in cards or whatever Waco and Opie had cooked up for their evening’s entertainment, as there was certainly no where else to go. The front nine down in the valley was partially submerged by recent heavy rains but the back nine was open and features some beautiful rolling terrain.

Falconhead Resort is just 12 miles west off Interstate 35 at the Marietta exit in southern Oklahoma and well worth stopping by to see the museum, play 18 holes and meet Barbara Sessions, one of the remarkable women in Oklahoma golf. Much more on Brown’s story in the next issue of Golf Oklahoma, including why his victory then hasn’t resulted in more African Americans on the PGA Tour today. Until then, just a shout out to everyone involved yesterday for a job very well done.

– Ken MacLeod

Left to right, Jim Dent with James Ridley, who coordinates the Pete Brown Scholarship for the Dayton Foundation.
The 436-yard par-4 12th hole at Falconhead Resort shows the mature beauty of the 66-year-old venue.
The flag on the 18th green for the ceremony is one signed by the four winners of the Waco Turner Open, Pete Brown in 1964, Gay Brewer 1963, Johnny Pott 1962 and Butch Baird 1961,


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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source