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A fitting tribute for golf advocate Charlie Wilson


The New Sardis Baptist Church membership fulfilled a lifetime dream for Charlie Wilson by financing his trip to The Masters Golf Tournament this year. Special to the Tri-State Defender

The New Sardis Baptist Church membership fulfilled a lifetime dream for Charlie Wilson by financing his trip to The Masters Golf Tournament this year.

Charlie Wilson dons a “green jacket” symbolic of those worn by champions of The Masters Golf Tournament. His home church, New Sardis Baptist, financed his trip to the 2011 tournament.

Local golf legend Charlie Wilson (right) at The Masters Golf Tournament with the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, pastor of New Sardis Baptist Church. (Courtesy photos)

Wilson is a member of New Sardis, which is pastored by the Rev. Dr. LaSimba Gray. He said pastor Gray wanted him to attend the tournament because of the commitment and dedication he has shown to young people – and for his overall love of golf.

At 86, Wilson is a Memphis golf legend. He is a volunteer golf coach known city wide as one of Memphis most renowned golf sportsman.

Golf began to evolve as part of Wilson’s world when at age 15 he stepped up to help his mother take care of the family’s needs. He started as a caddy for the local members of The Chickasaw Country Club. The job paid seventy-five cents a day, which was good money back in 1929, according to Wilson.

African-Americans were allowed to play golf on Mondays at the course devoted to white golfers. However, that practice came to a halt when some members complained that the African-American youths were abusing the course.

The city of Memphis later built a separate golf course at Lincoln Park for its African-American citizens, but a local protest surfaced over what course uses viewed as the inferior design of the golf course.

“We knew that the golf course that was made for us was nothing more than a converted baseball field diamond,” said Wilson.

The city of Memphis responded by building a better golf course in Douglass Park When Fuller Park was built, Wilson honed his golf game there.

Wilson became a mentor for local youths after locking in on their interest in golf while playing at Pine Hill Golf Course. Wilson and local professional golfer Charles Hudson started teaching as many as 200 young people a day at Pine Hill.

“We saw them as our future in this city, however, some of our own people saw them as a nuisance because they didn’t want the children on the golf course,” said Wilson.

When he retired from Kimberly-Clark during the early 1980’s, Wilson devoted more time to voluntarily teaching the area youths about the game. He has spent over 27 years of his life as a golf coach.

His greatest golf was played during his retirement years. During the early 1990’s, he won the Memphis Senior Bluff Golf Link three consecutive years in a row. The event was sponsored by the Memphis Park Commission and included some of the area’s most well known professional golfers.

Wilson was the 1990 golf champion of The East/West Championship in Phoenix, Ariz. Furthermore; He also captured championships in Kentucky and Mississippi.

Wilson was honored during the 2011 Living Legends Awards event, which is held every February at New Sardis. And each year, a citywide event is held at the church in his honor.

(This story reflects a report submitted by Danny Tennial)

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