Game of Privilege

An African American History of Golf

By Lane Demas

384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 51 halftones, 4 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3422-7
    Published: September 2017
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3423-4
    Published: August 2017

John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture

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Awards & distinctions

Herbert Warren Wind Book Award, United States Golf Association Museum

2018 North American Society for Sport History Book Award

This groundbreaking history of African Americans and golf explores the role of race, class, and public space in golf course development, the stories of individual black golfers during the age of segregation, the legal battle to integrate public golf courses, and the little-known history of the United Golfers Association (UGA)--a black golf tour that operated from 1925 to 1975. Lane Demas charts how African Americans nationwide organized social campaigns, filed lawsuits, and went to jail in order to desegregate courses; he also provides dramatic stories of golfers who boldly confronted wider segregation more broadly in their local communities. As national civil rights organizations debated golf’s symbolism and whether or not to pursue the game’s integration, black players and caddies took matters into their own hands and helped shape its subculture, while UGA participants forged one of the most durable black sporting organizations in American history as they fought to join the white Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA).

From George F. Grant’s invention of the golf tee in 1899 to the dominance of superstar Tiger Woods in the 1990s, this revelatory and comprehensive work challenges stereotypes and indeed the fundamental story of race and golf in American culture.

About the Author

Lane Demas is professor of history at Central Michigan University.
For more information about Lane Demas, visit the Author Page.


"There are a number of lessons to be learned from this book. . . . An unsettling but solid perspective on America."--Library Journal

“The story [Demas] has to tell is enthralling. . . . Reminds us that golf can be serious business—and that it’s much more than a game.”--Wilmington Star News

"This book is layered, fascinating, and tells an important history."--Choice

“A terrific book that will hold the interest of anyone who wants to gain a fuller understanding of [golf’s] development and the role that African Americans played in it.”--Michigan Historical Review

“Demas’s research, use of images, extensive footnotes, and historical tables make his book invaluable for researching leisure, African American and southern history, and, of course, golf itself.”--The Journal of Southern History

"With the exception of Bill Spiller's well-documented protests of American golf's apartheid system, black golfers have not garnered a place in the rich radical milieu of the black athlete. But Lane Demas's exploration Game of Privilege is a rearrangement of that understanding. It constructs an important new narrative about black golfers against the backdrop of racial supremacy that illuminates how and why progeny of enslaved Africans--men and women, golfers and not--waged a struggle, sometimes bloody and deadly, against the game in the Western hemisphere."--Kevin Blackistone, Washington Post sports columnist, ESPN panelist, and visiting professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland