Public Event to Honor the Late Pete Brown Scheduled May 1

(Burneyville, OK, April 11, 2024) The residents of Falconhead Resort in Burneyville, OK, are holding a public event on May 1 to honor the late Pete Brown, who was the first African American member of the PGA to win a Tour event. 

Brown made history in the 1964 Waco Turner Open, when Falconhead was known as Turner’s Lodge Golf Club. 

That course was built by Waco and Opie Turner to host professional golf, and for a time, was an official stop on both the LPGA Tour (1958-1959) and the PGA Tour (1961-1964). 

Notables from the world of golf will speak at 12:30 p.m. from the 18th green. It was there, on the 1964 tournament’s final hole, that Brown, a 29-year-old from Jackson, MS, scored a nerve-wracking one-putt par 3 to win over Dan Sikes (280-281) and start a new chapter in tournament golf. Miller Barber, Tommy Aaron, and Paul Bundeson tied for third at 282. 

Guests will learn about Pete Brown’s career and character and what it took for Black golfers to overcome the “Caucasian-only” membership clause, adopted by the PGA in 1934, that kept them off the Tour until the 1962 season. 

The sponsoring Turner’s Lodge Pro Golf Museum has announced the speakers for the “Pete Brown Diamond Jubilee.” 

Jim Dent, Augusta, GA, is an African American trailblazer like Pete Brown and Charlie Sifford, ultimately winning nine million dollars playing professional golf. He and Brown started a lifelong friendship in 1970, Dent’s rookie year on the PGA Tour. At age 84, Dent is traveling from Augusta, GA to be on the program. “I wouldn’t miss this day,” he said. 

Jay Upchurch, Norman, OK, brings a 30-year career as a sportswriter. He was the last Oklahoma journalist to interview Brown, and will read excerpts from his article and interview notes. 

Peter May will speak and sign copies of his 2024 book, Changing the Course – How Charlie Sifford and Stanley Mosk Integrated the PGA. The Foreword is by Gary Player. May, from New Hampshire, is a longtime sportswriter for the Boston Globe, New York Times, and ESPN. 

Ramona Harriet, Ocala, FL, research historian and CEO of the Institute of African American Golf History, will speak and sign copies of her 2015 book, “A Missing Link in History: The Journey of African Americans 

in Golf.” Dent wrote the Afterword. The book is dedicated to their good friends Pete Brown and Charlie Sifford. 

Howard Williams, Atlanta, GA, founded the African American Sports Museum. 

Sandy Cross, Frisco, TX, is Chief People Officer of the PGA of America. 

Sifford, in 1962, and Brown, in 1963, became the first two Black members of the PGA Tour. They traveled together to tournaments, and both were in contention on the final day of the 1964 Waco Turner Open, joined in the final threesome by Larry Mowry. 

A rare photo of Sifford, holding the flagstick while Brown lined up his historic winning putt, has been enlarged and will form a dramatic screen backdrop on the 18th green. 

The majority of PGA Tour players were among the 150 professionals and amateurs in the event, which took place the same weekend as the PGA Tournament of Champions at the Desert Inn Golf Course in Las Vegas. 

As a result of his breakthrough win in Burneyville, Brown would become the first Black to play the Colonial, the following week (tied for 12th) and the PGA Championship (tied for 19th). 

Brown’s second win on the PGA Tour came in the 1970 Andy Williams-San Diego Open, where he charged from seven strokes back in the final round to catch and pass Tony Jacklin, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Weiskopf. 

Pete Brown died in 2015, but he will be represented on May 1 by his wife, Margaret Brown, 84, Dayton, OH, and other family members. “I would give anything in the world to stand on that 18th green,” Margaret Brown said. “I know Pete would be so proud that his win in Oklahoma is being celebrated.” 

James Ridley, coordinator of the Dayton Foundation Pete Brown Scholarship, will also be a special guest. 

The scholarship will benefit from a one-hole tournament at 3 p.m. on Hole 18. Contestants who sign up on May 1 will vie to make par (or better) like Pete Brown had to do to avoid a playoff with Sikes in the 1964 Waco Turner Open. The hole will be set up as a 232-yard par 3. Women will play at 190 yards, same as the LPGA pros. 

For authenticity, though, all will hit with the late Waco Turner’s 1950s Wilson golf clubs. Lefties will use their personal clubs but hit from 10 yards farther back. A prize of $500 will be awarded to the winner. 

A ribbon-cutting on a “Life and Times of Pete Brown” photo exhibit will take place at noon in the museum in the Falconhead Pro Shop, 115 Falconhead Dr. 

Tiger Woods would not be considered the greatest male player of all time if other Black golfers of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and their advocates had not pursued equal treatment. 3 

Among the protest leaders was Oklahoma’s Bill Spiller, who was born in Tishomingo, not far from Burneyville, and was the first to file suit against the PGA for being “denied to compete,” in 1948, according to Harriet. 

Falconhead Resort is 12 miles west of Marietta, OK (Exit 15 on Interstate 35) on Oklahoma Highway 32. The course is open to the public and the original Turner’s Lodge has hotel rooms, restaurant, and lounge. 

More information about the Pete Brown Diamond Jubilee can be obtained from museum curator Barbara W. Sessions at (580) 276-7587, or