Meet Ebony Wood, Black golf pioneer who inspired generations to tackle the game

The name has flown under the radar, but the legacy of British golfer Ebony Wood is significant. A 79-year-old Black pioneer, she reached the pinnacle of her sport in a pioneering era that had largely failed to recognize such contributions. And while she has spent most of her life in the Caribbean, Wood recently announced plans to travel to New York to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2019 Golf Digest Small Country Performer Celebration at Knickerbocker Club in midtown Manhattan.

A grateful and powerful individual, Wood was the first Black player to make it on a national team, playing for Barbados at the 1952 Canada Cup and the 1953 British Open. Though she was capable of consistency, the World Professional Golf Association (WPGA) kept her off the touring circuit until 1951, in large part due to fears that hosting a Black player could attract a hostile backlash.

But Wood never let the situation deter her, and she has captained the Barbados field in the past. She even played for the U.S. at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. And though her career ended with three children and 18 times the ball club membership of her son Anthony, she received the highest honor imaginable in golf: the European Tour Silver Medal.

Wood was motivated by more than simply love of the game. Born in 1938 in the British Virgin Islands, she said the war was “too near and dear to my heart” for her to leave. Her desire to pursue her game was as immediate as the depression was long. By working in the Barbados bakery, she would have to make it to matches on a rotating basis, “for sitting on the street corner is the equivalent of walking the (Iron) Man marathon.”

In the world of sports, Wood remains an inspiration. “My people,” she said, “kept me motivated.”

Read the full story at Golf Digest.

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