PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — The PGA Tour, prompted by the Shoal Creek controversy, said Friday it will deny tournament rights to golf clubs that have all-white memberships or show any other signs of discrimination.
The tour's 10-member Tournament Policy Board voted for tougher anti-discrimination rules after threats of protests and sponsor pull-outs at next week's PGA Championship.
"In the event a golf club indicates its membership practices and policies are non-discriminatory--but there is information that raises a question as to such practices and policies (e.g. all-white membership)--the staff is authorized to require on a case by case basis that as a condition of hosting an event, the applicable golf club take appropriate action to encourage minority membership," the PGA statement said.
The policy would affect tournaments on the PGA Tour, the Senior PGA Tour and Ben Hogan tour events.
The Charlotte Observer found that 17 clubs where PGA Tour events were held have all-white memberships.
Dave Lancer, assistant public relations director for the PGA Tour, said there could be geographic or economic reasons why a club might not have minority members, "but that club will have to explain to us that they are actively out to do something about the problem. An explanation that 'We just haven't any minorities apply' just won't wash."
The statement from the tour's headquarters came after more than a week of controversy concerning the championship and its site, the previously all-white Shoal Creek country club in Birmingham, Ala. Bowing to pressure from civil rights groups, Shoal Creek awarded honorary membership to a black businessman this week and said it was considering another black for admission.
The tour said all agreements between itself and local tournament co-sponsors "shall specifically require that the practices and policies of any and all clubs proposed as tournament sites do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin."
It also said tournament contracts would not be extended "unless the PGA Tour is satisfied that its non-discriminatory policies are being enforced."
All PGA Tour contracts are awarded on a year-by-year basis, tour spokesman Sid Wilson said.
Although the Shoal Creek racial controversy has centered on the PGA Championship, the Tour does not have jurisdiction over that tournament or any of the other three major championships.
The Masters is privately run by the Augusta National Golf Club, the U.S. Open is run by the U.S. Golf Assn., the British Open by the Royal and Ancient golf club, and the PGA by the PGA of America.