PGA of America acknowledges ‘failed chapter,’ renames historic award

The PGA of America's Horton Smith Award will be replaced with the PGA Professional Development Award.

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The PGA of America Board of Directors announced on Thursday it had voted to rename the Horton Smith Award, effective immediately. It will be replaced with the PGA Professional Development Award, which will honor a PGA member for outstanding contributions to professional education.

Horton Smith was a two-time Masters champion, winning in 1934 and 1936. He served as the PGA of America’s president from 1952-54 and, according to the PGA’s press release, “was a defender of the ‘Caucasian-only’ membership clause, which was regrettably included in the PGA Bylaws from 1934-61.”

“In renaming the Horton Smith Award, the PGA of America is taking ownership of a failed chapter in our history that resulted in excluding many from achieving their dreams of earning the coveted PGA member badge and advancing the game of golf,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley in the release. “We need to do all we can to ensure the PGA of America is defined by inclusion. Part of our mission to grow the game is about welcoming all and bringing diversity to the sport. With the new PGA Professional Development Award, we will recognize effective inclusion efforts and honor those across our 41 PGA Sections who continue to promote and improve our educational programs. We look forward to doing more of both as we move forward.”

The Horton Smith Award had been presented annually since 1965. The inaugural PGA Professional Development Award will be presented Oct. 27-30 at the PGA of America’s annual meeting in Hartford, Conn.

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