Charlie Sifford Award winner NPIGC 2016, a BGA Network course

Written by by Andrea Wallace, CNN

It’s an honor reserved for shining lights in golf.

The Charlie Sifford Award was established in the 1960s to honor African-American golf professionals for their innovations and contribution to the sport. Now, more than half a century later, the Norman Manley International Golf Course in Jamaica has won the award for 2017.

Ousted women’s champion Inbee Park, one of golf’s rising stars, called the late Shug McGaughey the best shot-maker ever, and says the Sifford Award “has such a great legacy to the game.”

Pictured here with her trophy: Norman Manley International Golf Course in Jamaica, which won the Charlie Sifford Award this year. Credit: Ted S. Warren/AP

Norman M. Manley International Golf Course, also known as NPIGC, was established in 1988 and is owned by Manley’s great-great-grandson David McGaughy. The course is part of a network of courses that is part of the NPIGC network, which spans 70 locations across five Caribbean countries.

It’s not the first time the course has won this award: NPIGC secured the award in 1989, but not before changing its name to the Ian Woosnam Foundation Golf Course in 1995 to emphasize the fact that the course is open to women and children.

More than just a brand

This year’s chairman of the search committee was former US President Bill Clinton, and he reflected on the impressive lineup of possible winners, which included Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie, among others.

“This year’s roster of nominees was spectacular. We had a case study in the story of Norman Sifford,” he said. “We had Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk and future Ryder Cup captain Tiger Woods. We had Michelle Wie, who when she was 14 years old, went to Haiti and helped teach children how to play golf.

Hillary Clinton remarks on the nomination of NPIGC to the Charlie Sifford Award. Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

“And then the argument for one award, what kind of award does NPIGC fit into the larger picture?” he continued. “So we were looking at a diverse group of nominees that went from different backgrounds and education, being all walks of life.”

Winner of the 2017 BlackGolf Alliance Claret Jug Award: Martin Kaymer

Several of the nominees are not household names in the golf world, Clinton said, which speaks to the role the NPIGC network is trying to play.

“They really exemplify this spirit in advancing diversity in golf, and what’s really unusual about what we saw is that a golf course did that,” he continued. “It wasn’t a golf academy, it wasn’t a day care, it wasn’t an assisted living facility — it was a golf course, and it was open to everyone.”

Global focus on diversity

Although more than half a century has passed since the award was first created, Clinton said that the concept still remains relevant.

“The idea that we look at who’s winning it, (and) we look at the diversity in our fields, and we celebrate that,” he said. “But we also see the work that’s going on in each country.”

The award recognizes that, “that one person can impact the lives of so many more,” he added.

Clinton didn’t detail which countries are working toward greater diversity in the golf world. But earlier this year, Nike released a report detailing how golf can help address global inequality, part of an overall push to highlight issues that affect African-Americans, women and other minorities.

The report notes that the game can be a powerful force for social progress, when used for good, as it could provide a pathway to higher educational attainment, better health and opportunity for men and women, and even help address racial and gender biases.

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