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Baltimore native Stepney working to share history of African Americans in golf

Baltimore native Anthony Stepney, who is now a PGA teaching professional in Orlando, is in the process of bringing a part of golf's history back to his home state and one of its historically black universities.

Baltimore native Anthony Stepney didn't think about making a career in golf until he had worked in Maryland state government for a decade.

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Motivated by Tiger Woods' breakthrough victory at the 1997 Masters, Stepney also started studying the history of the game, particularly the achievements of African Americans.

The Woodlawn High graduate, who is now a PGA teaching professional in Orlando, is in the process of bringing a part of the game's history back to his home state and one of its historically black universities.

Through his involvement with the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore's Professional Golf Management program, Stepney helped develop and coordinate the diversity and inclusion initiatives that he hopes will give "exposure and a better understanding of the game and the business [of golf]."

Stepney was also instrumental in convincing the family of the late Charlie Sifford, the PGA Tour's first African-American member, to donate many of his mementos and other memorabilia to UMES to put on display.

Among the artifacts that belonged to Sifford, who passed away in February at age 92, are his golf bag and clubs, his PGA Tour playing badge and many pictures of Sifford from his career.

Stepney is hoping that Sifford is the first of many former African-American players to share their memorabilia with UMES, which has the only PGA of America sanctioned golf management program among the nation's historically black universities.

"In talking with a number of retired tour players over the years, we found that many of them had memorabilia and personal effects that were incredibly valuable in terms of their historical significance," Stepney said. "Oftentimes those things were overlooked or not fully valued by the greater community."

Shortly after Sifford passed away, Stepney talked to some of his children and other family members and learned that there were "boxes and boxes" of mementos from his professional career. Sifford turned pro at age 26 in 1948, but was not allowed to join the PGA Tour until 1961. He won two official PGA Tour events.

"Oftentimes people don't have places to store those things," Stepney said. "We decided that, 'Wouldn't it be great to use the university as a repository for those things so they can be shared with the students and the general public and shown the value and respect they are worthy of receiving?"

Stepney said that after he and UMES executive vice president Kim Dumpson went to Sifford's home in Ohio to catalogue his memorabilia.

"We walked completely floored by the material we were privy to seeing. It was just incredible," Stepney said.

Ultimately, Stepney would like to expand the collection to other prominent African Americans involved in the game, including some of Sifford's successors on the PGA Tour as well as such locals as longtime Forest Park pro Tim Sanders, who passed away last month at age 69.

"Tim was very instrumental in developing golf throughout the area," said Stepney, who learned the game from Sanders. "I'm sure there are folks that have come through Forest Park — along with Carroll Park, Clifton Park, Mount Pleasant — who have historical documents they'd like to share."

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