Had he been allowed to ply his trade like other golfers, Ted Rhodes may have become a household name, much like contemporaries Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, and Byron Nelson. But because he was black, the PGA of America prohibited him from playing in their tournaments while he was in his prime. Rhodes was born in 1913 in Nashville, Tennessee, and is recognized as the first African-American touring professional in this country. He was first exposed to the game as a caddie at Belle Meade Country Club and Richland Country Club, although he wasn’t allowed to play at either facility. He practiced and played wherever he could, including the city parks. He joined the Navy, and after World War II ended, Rhodes met Billy Eckstein, an entertainer, and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis in Chicago. He taught both men the game, and Louis in particular became fascinated with it. He became Rhodes’ benefactor, and Rhodes went to Los Angeles to learn the nuances of the game from touring professional Ray Mangrum. It wasn’t long before Rhodes was ready to tee it up with the best players in the game. However, the PGA of America prevented Rhodes and other African-American players from teeing it up in its events, referring to the “Caucasian-only” clause in its constitution. Thanks to the efforts of Rhodes and others, the clause was eventually dropped in 1961, but by then it was too late for Rhodes, who was past his competitive prime at the age of 48. In the events he did play in, mainly on the old United Golf Association golf circuit, Rhodes made his mark, winning the UGA’s National Negro Open four times, and by some counts won almost 150 events overall. In the 1960s, Rhodes returned to Nashville and became an instructor, dying at the relatively young age of 55 in 1969. A month after his death, Cumberland Golf Course in Nashville was renamed Ted Rhodes Golf Course, a name that the municipal facility still retains.    
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