Just Let Me Play
By: Charlie Sifford - 1992 | Purchase Now
I first met Charlie Sifford at the MONY Syracuse Senior Golf Classic in 1992. It was a great tournament which Jim Dent won for the second time that year. All of the living pioneering African American golfers were there. The tournament ran for 10 years but was dropped after the 1992 tournament as organizers said they could not attract enough sponsors to continue to hold the 54-hole tournament at the Lafayette Country Club located just outside of Syracuse in Upstate New York.
I later ran into him at the BE Pepsi Challenge golf event at the Doral in Miami about 5 years later. He had written the subject of this review and created a lot of controversy. The book can be found via the internet but is out-of-print. But I think this review is important in light of other reviews I've read.
Reviewers generally call Charlie bitter and that label has stuck even after his induction into the Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. At the time he made a remark that I think is critical to the reading of his book. He said of his induction into the Hall, "It makes me feel like I'm a worthwhile professional."
When you never get a chance to compete against the competition, you are forced to permanently live in the subjunctive tense. You are forced to compare yourself to people you've never competed against and to watch success you never experience.
In Just Let Me Play Charlie recounts the story of how discrimination kept him out of golf. That fact alone gives him the right to speculate. During the Hall of Fame Induction speech Sifford tells the following story of Playing against Arnold Palmer in the Candian Open. Sifford opened with a 63 and led Palmer by one. He recalled Palmer standing in front of the scoreboard saying, Charlie Sifford? How the hell did he shoot 63? I'm standing right behind him, Sifford said, so I said, 'The same damn way you shot 64.' That's how we met.
Read the book. Some parts of it might not be pleasant to hear. But read it from the perspective that today we know and recognize Charlie Sifford as one of the best golfers to have played the game.