Many years ago, Blacks could not play the game of golf in this country anywhere because of bigotry, Jim Crow laws, and treatment as less than United States citizens. White Supremacy raged and forced its terror and rules on us back in the day. But, some courageous Black men in Minneapolis started the Bronze Golf Tournament.
The legend of its founder, the late Jimmy Slemmons, grew as he went about hustling to gather gifts and prizes for the players for the tournament. He invited the entire community, young and old, to come out, celebrate and enjoy Black men competing and playing golf. Many years ago, even the great heavyweight boxing champion Joe Lewis played in the Bronze.
I never had the fortune of meeting Mr. Slemmons. He handed the Bronze over to a couple of honorable, educated men – the late Thad Nicolas and Dick Kelly, who for many years continued the Bronze history every summer along with the Twin Cities Golf Club.
Since 2012, Darwin Dean has shouldered the responsibility of managing the continuation of this historic tournament.
Theodore Wirth Golf Course, established back 1916, has for over 100 years hosted the Bronze many times. Wirth has stood the test of time; it’s been one of the most challenging courses to play in the state.
The City of Minneapolis, after nearly two years of planning and construction redesign improvements, completed bunker renovations and the installation of a new irrigation system at Wirth. Now this Golden Valley/Greater Northside treasure remains as challenging to play as ever.
The great game of golf has grown in our community. In 2018, we can obviously play virtually anywhere, thanks to the efforts and talents of many who paved the way, including Lee Elder, Calvin Peete, and Tiger Woods.
The Bronze Tournament historically has been a 36-hole marathon, but this year it was an 18-hole sprint. Two great men were honored at this year’s tournament, Eddie Manderville and Bob Shelton, who have over their careers been great golfers and have competed and contributed to the Bronze legacy for 40 years or more.
I have always enjoyed the Bronze and have played in it many times since 1978, hosting many radio shows from the clubhouse during the tournament. It was great to see so many of you at Wirth on Saturday! Thanks for saying hello and for listening, reading, and watching me cover sports over these many years.
Those of you that I know who are golfers and did not participate, remember this tournament is ours. We must learn to prioritize as people and golfers by supporting and maintaining our legacy. Congratulations to all who played again in the 2018 79th Annual Bronze Tournament.
Here are the winners:
Men’s Champion: Peter Omeke, 74.
Men’s second place: George Mburu, 76.
Men’s third place: Bobby Ongechi, 78.
Women’s Champion: Gloria Harris, 88.
Women’s second place: Vicki Burns, 91.
Senior Men’s Champion: Ron Benford, 83.
Senior Men’s second place: Everett Pettiford, 90.
Senior Women Champion: Martha Arrandondo, 112.
Golden Senior Champion: Bob Shelton, 83.