Calvin Peete 1943-2015

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Former professional golfer Calvin Peete died this week. Peete taught himself to play golf and became so good at it that he won a dozen PGA championships.

Before his professional athletic career took off he sold fruit and vegetables from his station wagon outside of Detroit. When he read how much money professional golfers could make he decided to take up the game. How hard could it be to hit a golf ball straight down the fairway?

Most golfers never master controlling their shots. Calvin Peete could do it, again and again. He was a remarkably consistent ball striker, not the longest hitter on the tour but for awhile the most accurate. The statistics prove it. He was a poor black man who managed to find his way into a rich white man’s world and succeed there brilliantly for a while.

I remember standing near Calvin Peete before he walked to the first tee on the last day of a Senior PGA event near my house. He offered one the apples he was juggling to his playing partner. I cannot recall the name or the face of Peete’s playing partner that day. He might have been one of the stars of the tour. I am sure he looked very much like the other players on the course. There was only one player out there that day who looked different, the one who brought an apple to share with his friend.

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