Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

Segregation and Golf

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Cecil Beatty moved to Washington state from Oklahoma, during World War II, to work as a machinist in the shipyards. In the early fifties, he bought a home on 31st and Olive, in the Madrona neighborhood (pictured here). 

Cecil Beatty

Cecil: After I got up in age, say around 50 years old, I started skiing and playing golf.
Phyllis: He learned to ski at 50 and one year it didn't snow, and there was nothing to do, so he said, "what's everybody else doing?" and they said, "playing golf." He stared playing golf. He's got a whole wall of trophies.
Cecil: Only 14.
Phyllis: Only 14!! How many do you have? How many do I have? He just started whacking that ball all over. Same thing with skiing. He flew all over the world going skiing, belonged to a black ski club. 
Cecil: Well, I started at Jefferson Golf Course. That's where I started, and I took, I took four lessons, and I got in the car and drove off to Canada to play in a tournament.
Did you win?
Cecil: No. They announced just like the pros, "And on the tee, we have Cecil Beatty from Seattle, Washington," and all the crowd looked and I stepped up to the place there, and all of a sudden it hit me that I didn't know how to play no golf, and there was a little puddle of water just about as far from me as that corner there, and I must have hit the first 6 balls into that little puddle of water (laughter). I was nervous and scared and shaken, and I looked around and saw all these people, and they all lookin right dead at me.
Phyllis: That's the only one you didn't win.
Cecil: Name of the club was Fir State Golf Club. They had one member there, a youngster, he was 18 or 19 when they first started. That's what got the club started was he couldn't play in no tournaments in Seattle. They wouldn't, no blacks could play in tournament with white kids, so he had to go to Honolulu to play in tournaments. He was another Tiger Woods you might say. He was just that good, but he couldn't play nowhere around here in tournaments so they said, "Well, we'll just get a club of our own and have our own tournaments," and they got a club called the Fir State Golf Club, then they got one in Portland, and down in California, LA, all up and down the coast. When they'd have little tournaments, you know, for the kids, Tiger Woods played in it, cause he belonged to the club in Santa Monica, so he played and he came up here when he was 14, and I checked him in out at Alaska Airlines, he was 14 years old, so I gave him some advice, I said, "Just keep swingin."