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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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

"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

Game of Privilege uncovers a little-known history of African American participation in golf, a sport long perceived as the exclusive domain of wealthy whites. Demas persuasively argues that well before the advent of Tiger Woods, black golfers made important contributions to the twentieth-century struggle for equality. Through careful examination and analysis, Game of Privilege moves golf from the periphery to the center of the conversation about race and sports in America.”--Tomiko Brown-Nagin, author of the Bancroft Prize–winning book Courage to Dissent

“Demas takes his readers on a fascinating golf outing, along the way introducing his audience to a wide range of compelling stories that not only describe the history of African American participation in a game that, as his title states, has strong associations with white privilege in American society but also shows how those who fought to integrate golf courses engaged in actions that proved to be important to the civil rights movement.”--John Bloom, author of There You Have It