written by Olivia Pennybaker
Born in Mississippi in 1912, Ann Gregory pushed boundaries for black Americans in golf. Moving to Indiana, she learned to play golf while her husband served in the Navy during the Second World War. Not even three years later she won the all black Chicago Women’s Golf Association Championship. In 1950 Gregory won the Sixth City Open in Cleveland, the Midwest Open, and the United Golf Association’s National Tournament. In 1956 Gregory became the first black American woman to play in a United States Golf Association national championship when she played in the US Women’s Amateur Championship. She was denied entry into the banquet at Congressional Country Club and was even mistaken as a maid. Despite her struggles, seeing her friends and family on the final day of a tournament never failed to make her smile. In her hometown of Gary, Indiana blacks were not allowed to play the South Gleason Park Golf Course but in the 1960’s Gregory played the course anyway, inspiring other blacks to do the same. Soon the ban was lifted. In 1971 Gregory was the runner-up at the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, making her the first black American to finish in second place in a USGA Women’s competition. In 1989 she won a gold medal in the US National Senior Olympics. She won nearly 300 tournaments in her amateur career and a granite marker commemorates her achievements on the 6th hole of the South Gleason Park Golf Course. She was inducted into both the African American Golfers Hall of Fame in 2006 and the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in 2012. Gregory passed away in 1990 but she is still remembered for her great amateur golf career. She was compassionate and funny but never took no as an answer, pushing forward the opportunities for blacks and women in golf.