Bronze statues of two golf greats, Dr. Charles Sifford Sr. and Walter Hagen are now permanently displayed at Legends Plaza at Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, TX. The statues, designed by local sculptor Emmanuel Gillespie, of Dr. Charles Sifford, winner of the 1954 United Golf Association’s National Negro Open at Cedar Crest, and Walter Hagen, winner of the 1927 PGA championship also hosted by Cedar Crest were unveiled as heirs of the golfers, elected officials and special guests cheered.
Scholarships were also awarded to JaLynn McKinney (Lincoln High School) and Joanna Ramirez (Roosevelt High School) by the I AM a Golfer Foundation (IAMGF). Since its inception in 2018, IAMGF has engaged over 450 area youth in instructional programming, created and hosted 71 paid internship positions for area students and awarded more than $95,000 in higher education scholarships.
“Words cannot express how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to honor the game of golf and these two legends of golf in this way,” Ira Molayo, General Manager of Cedar Crest Golf Course, said. “We are standing on the shoulders of these men today with the hope of inspiring golfers for the next 100 years as well. It’s an honor to have had these legends of golf be crowned as champions on this A.W. Tillinghast gem, Cedar Crest Golf Course.”
Dr. Sifford, a native of Charlotte, N.C. was known as “The Jackie Robinson of Golf”. He was the first African American to play on the PGA Tour and won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles open in 1969. He also won the United Golf Association’s National Negro Open six times.
Charles Sifford Jr. joined 120 golfers in a tournament following the unveiling and was thrilled to walk in his famous father’s footprints as he played the rounds of the legendary golf course.
“My father, Dr. Charles Sifford, would have been thrilled and honored having his life’s story told in this manner here at Cedar Crest. My father overcame many adversities as he strived to play professional golf. This installation will ensure that generations to come will also know of and be inspired by the grit and perseverance that it took for a man of color to play a sport that he loved. Dr. Charles Sifford was a trailblazer for the sport of golf who wanted the injustices removed to ‘Just Let Him Play.”
Walter Hagen was rated one of the greatest golfers ever. It was said he brought publicity, prestige, big prize money and lucrative endorsements to the sport. He had 11 professional golf majors, third only to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. He won the U.S. Open twice, the PGA Championship five times and the Western Open five times. Hagen’s PGA wins totaled 45. His 1927 PGA Championship win was hosted by Cedar Crest.
Hagen is a native of Rochester, NY and first honed his skills while working as a caddie at the Rochester Country Club. With the help of the Golf Pro Alfred Ricketts, Hagen improved his game and eventually gave lessons as a teen. He made his professional debut at age 19 at the 1912 Canadian Open. Two years later, he finished in 4th place in the 1913 U.S. Open. He said he was treated badly by the other professionals, and he vowed he would win the next year and he did.
In 2000, Golf Digest Magazine ranked Hagen the seventh greatest golfer of all time and eighth greatest player of all time by Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine 2012 ranking. His victories include the U.S. Open, 1914, 1919; The Open, 1922, 1924, 1928, 1929; PGA Championship, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927.
“These statues provide a permanent reminder of the footprints that these two legendary greats left not only at Cedar Crest Golf Course, but also on the game of golf,” Dave Ridley, Co-Founder of the I AM a Golfer Foundation, said. “This gift to the City marks a major milestone in our foundation’s efforts to raise awareness of, and appreciation for, this historic golf course.”
Artist Emmanuel Gillespie
African American sculptor, Emmanuel Gillespie designed the statues of iconic golfers, Dr. Charles Sifford Sr., and Walter Hagen. The statues are cast in bronze and slightly larger than life.
A creator for over 20 years and native of Dallas, he has completed several public art projects in Dallas including his most notable works, site-specific sculptures for the Bexar Street Corridor, a design for the DART bus station’s Green Line project, and a statue of baseball great Ernie Banks for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
He utilizes his artistic practice as a conduit for community engagement and has a long history with the Dallas/Fort Worth communities through his studio art instruction. In addition, his administrative work in implementing art programs in collaboration with the African American Museum of Dallas, South Dallas Cultural Center, and other institutions, foster an appreciation for the arts for youth and adults.
His curatorial work in galleries and museums nationally provide visual narratives of the African diaspora while highlighting visual artists. His artwork cultivates conversation and his passion for Dallas/Fort Worth bridges a greater understanding of history. Gillespie received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Texas in Denton, TX and earned his Master of Art degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA.
Cedar Crest History
This legendary course is the home of the 1927 PGA Championship, a prestigious honor. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, one of the most prolific architects in the history of golf, Cedar Crest Golf Course continues to be a favorite of Dallas golf enthusiasts. With its rolling terrain, greenside bunkers, and tree-lined fairways, every golfer gets an opportunity to compete, as the champions of 1927 did.
When Cedar Crest Golf Club, formerly Cedar Crest Country Club, was founded, its location would eventually attract some of the more affluent residents and businesses. It was the intent of the founder, Sol Dreyfuss, to make Cedar Crest a nationally recognized course when he put up the purse for the first Golf Open. It attracted pro golfers from around the world and despite an unexpected cold front, the tournament was a huge success. The first PGA golf tournament followed, giving even more exposure to the historical landmark.
Today, the Cedar Crest Golf Course, located in southern Dallas just minutes from downtown, is still the pride of the community. Dallas Citizens still find the beautiful terrain of hills and magnificent trees surrounding the course a great place to live and raise families.