PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The PGA of America is renaming its Horton Smith Award after a review of history revealed Smith defended the Caucasian-only membership clause when he served as PGA president in the early 1950s.
The PGA of America board voted to rename it the PGA Professional Development Award. It honors a PGA member for outstanding contributions to professional education.
“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,” PGA President Suzy Whaley said. “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.”
The Caucasian-only clause was part of the PGA bylaws from 1934 until it finally was rescinded in 1961. Smith was president of the PGA of America from 1952 to 1954.
Smith is a two-time Masters champion — he won the first tournament played at Augusta National in 1934 — who finished his career with 32 victories. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990. He also received in 1962 the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor from the USGA.