Our Proud Heritage
Seventy-five years ago, a group of men had the foresight to organize and establish the Fairway Golf Club: Myron Coleman, Robert Nelson, Raymond “Ducky” Swann, Antonio “Doc” Wright, Jesse Copeland, William “Piggy” Ellis, Dr. William Haskins, William “Chink” Jones, Joe Reese, Wilcher Morton, Lawson Craig, and many others
The year was 1937. Most Black Americans were unaware of the game of golf, let alone play it. But the men who would become the Club knew about this game. The majority had become exposed to golf as caddies. As caddies, they could play golf on “caddies’ day” at the courses where they worked. They had learned the game from the people whose bags they carried and whose putts they read. They had been exposed to the challenge and “bitten by the golf bug.” So the men of the Club were brought together by one common bond, the game of golf.
In spite of the fact that most golf course doors were closed to Negro golfers, the men of the Club would not be denied. Golf was in their blood. They wanted to play golf, to compete, to showcase their golf game, and promote the game of golf in the Black communities, locally and in other cities. Thus the Fairway Golf Club was born.
A nine hole golf course in southwest Dayton, known as Miami View Golf Course, was open to Black golfers. It was here that the Club members started their golf program. The aim was to promote golf and create a greater interest in the game of golf for men and women. They developed instructional programs for beginning golfers and established organized completion for men and women. Intercity play was initiated between Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Toledo, and other Midwest cities. This served to promote the game of golf and established friendships between men and women from different places and brought together some of the best golfers in the Midwest.
To further expand interest in the game of golf, the Club established an auxiliary for women called the Golferettes. Today, men and women are in the same club. In addition, the Club started a weekly newspaper titled, Golf Highlights, to keep golfers informed of golfing events and activities in the Dayton area and other Midwest cities.
In 1943 the Fairway Golf Club promoted the first Fairway Golf Club Tournament. The tournament had flights for all skill levels, men and women, and a flight for professional golfers. During the early years, such notables as Joe Louis, Billy Eckstine, and Red Prysock have competed. Professional golfers Pete Brown, Bill Spiller, Ted Rhodes, Charlie Sifford, and Chuck Thorpe headlined the pro category. Since its inauguration, the annual tournament has grown to be one of the largest and most successful amateur tournaments in the United States. It should be noted that the Fairway Golf Club Tournament is older than many PGA golf tournaments.
1937 – 2015
SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
• First Female Champion – Edna Riffe
• First Male Champion – Clarence “Shanghai” Webb
• First to attain Professional Status – Myron B. Coleman
• Introduced an automated/computerizes registration system that became the Midwest District Standard
• In conjunction with co-sponsor Marathon Oil Company and WHIO-TV, hosted the first live television coverage of an amateur golf tournament. This milestone was accomplished during the Midwest District Tournament at Kittyhawk Club Course in 1969. Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis an MWD Promotional Director Frank Lett, provided color commentary to sportscaster Tom Hamlin.
• Initiated the first full-fledged junior golf tournament at Madden Golf Course in 1979. Participants were from throughout the Midwest.
• In 1983 the Fairway Golf League was started by Soloman Smith who served as League secretary for that first year. The following year Gerald Purnell took over and held that position for the next 25 years. The league has evolved into one of the largest in the Dayton area with 56 members participating.
• In 1993 the Club introduced golf as part of the curriculum in the Dayton Public School System. This program was started at the elementary level with plans underway for expansion to the secondary level.
• In 2011 Jeff Mims designed a logo that gave Fairway Golf Club a new look. Members are proud to wear our Fairway colors of navy and yellow on uniforms and hats.
• As President, Jack Williams had a website created (www.fairwaygolfclubdayton.com) that allows everyone to access information regarding club and league activities. A Facebook page was also established (fairway golf club)