I often ask myself – what is my purpose in this life?
In recent years it has been abundantly clear that one aspect of that purpose has been the carrying forward the heavy burden of those black golfers who were denied the opportunity to compete equally as men during the prime of their lives. The denial enshrined by a clause in the by law of the PGA of America [the pre-cursor of the PGA Tour] named the ‘Caucasian Only Rule’ which introduced between 1934 and 1961. To be taught and influenced by these great golfers, to me now, has felt like they poured their heart and soul into my aspirations.
2019 PGA Tour Bermuda Championship – Tournament Ambassador
When afforded the honour to hit the inaugural first tee shot at a PGA Tour event and be the Tournament Ambassador for the inaugural 2019 PGA Tour Bermuda Championship by then Executive Director PH Horgan III and Tourism Minister the Hon Zane Desilva JP MP allowed me to reflect on my entire life in golf.
I recall announcing on that eventful morning October 31st, 2019,
“I accept this honour on behalf of those who came before me and paved the way.- the crack of dawn golfers. ” and naming, “Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin, Herman ‘Tucci’ Bascome, Earl Anderson, Earl Lowe, George, Leonard Jones and other ‘Crack of Dawn Golfers’ who were denied the opportunity to compete equally as humans because of overt racism enshrined in laws.”
As the youngest Bermuda Open Champion at age 20 years old in 1978, win at collegiate level, qualify for the PGA European Tour and who would go on to win a total of three Bermuda Open Championships by 1984, I was not aware of my achievements. I was acutely aware of those who taught and influenced my development between 1971 and 1985. I knew how good those then old timers were, but sadly, their advanced age meant they were denied during the best years of their lives.
Bermuda golfing greats like Herman ‘Tucci’ Bascome, Earl Anderson, Earl Lowe, George Lowe, Edward ‘Buzz’ DeShields, Leonard Jones not only had their hand in my development (directly & indirectly) they were inextricably connected to Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin as golfing partners and rivals .
Today as Bermuda prepares to celebrate the legacy of Black Golfers and lure African American golfers to our shores, It is important that we celebrate those who paid a burdensome price and died heartbroken because their good given talents were deliberately stifled.
Today we celebrate Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin on the 70th Anniversary of his death. We do so knowing that the legacy that the ‘Caucasian Only Rule’ the PGA of America promulgated was far reaching and its stench lingers on.
While I do my part with the balance of my life to make a difference – it’s easy to ask where have the years gone?
Thanks to Dr Jeffrey Sammons of New York University, on this milestone 70years anniversary the truth Legacy of Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin and the forgotten era is available to be be shared with the world.
The Book on the Life of Louis Rafael ‘Kid’ Corbin by Dr Jeffrey Sammons is the making – 70 years following his death on April 1, 1950 – We Will Remember Them!