This Tennessee city honored one of its golf legends by naming new clubhouse for him

Golfers and non-golfers streamed into the newly opened clubhouse Saturday morning at the Links at Pine Hill Golf Course in South Memphis on a historic day. It was the dedication of the Cleophus and Charles Hudson Clubhouse, named after towering figures in the Black golf community of Memphis.

Outside the clubhouse, dozens of golfers prepared for a 9-hole scramble on a course, also recently renovated, to draw more attention to the historic naming of the clubhouse and to raise money in what was billed as “Charles Hudson Day.”

Charles Hudson, who started playing at Pine Hill and played golf on a scholarship at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the first Black golf pro at Pine Hill. His father, the late Cleophus Hudson Sr., was a caddy at Memphis Country Club and, after serving in the Navy, he returned home and got hooked on golf. In 1962, Cleophus Sr. made history as the firm minority golfer to tee off at the newly desegregated Pine Hill Golf Course, a moment captured by photographer Ernest Withers and featured in the Tri State Defender newspaper.

More: Out of Bounds: The history of African Americans and golf in Memphis explained

Surveying the crowded clubhouse room, Charles Hudson said the outpouring of support and the naming of the clubhouse underscores his family’s “accomplishments and that we made a difference in the community.”

Hudson pointed to the legacy of his community involvement when Memphis professional golfer J.P. Thornton walked by him in the clubhouse. “There’s a whole lot of history in this room,” Hudson noted. Thornton, who plays professionally, got his start on the Links at Pine Hill working with Hudson before attending Texas Southern University on a golf scholarship. He is now playing professionally.

Loren Roberts, the former PGA Tour pro and board member at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, played in Saturday’s Pine Hill scramble. He noted he had played Pine Hill before the recent course renovations and that the new course is a stern golf test as well as a community asset in the heart of South Memphis. He joked that he didn’t know how much “average golfers” would like Pine Hill.

Golf carts can be seen in front of the golf course after a ceremony took place for the new clubhouse being named after pro golfer Charles Hudson on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Pine Hill Golf Course in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: Stu Boyd II-The Commercial Appeal)

“Having a great place to go play and have lunch and be with friends and have a driving range here is great for the city,” Roberts said. “(Until the renovation) Pine Hill never had a driving range, and that’s where you want kids to get out there hitting balls and learning the game.”

He added that Mickey Barker, the city of Memphis golf director, had done a great job of building out youth programs at the city’s municipal courses, including Audubon, Whitehaven and Pine Hill. Roberts said he’s traveled throughout the United States and the Memphis golf program stands out for the way it gets kids involved. “I don’t know of another city that has a program where kids under 16 can play for free,” he added.

On the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Roberts said city leaders need to continue to promote the tournament that starts the FedExCup Playoffs. “We have the biggest sponsor on the tour, FedEx, and we get to see all 70 golfers all four days because we don’t have a cut,” Roberts said. “We need to continue to promote this community asset.” The FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind is Aug. 15-18.

The clubhouse program included remarks by Memphis Council members Jana Swearengen-Washington, other dignitaries and, of course, honoree Charles Hudson.

Mark Russell is executive editor of The Commercial Appeal. You can reach him at 901/288-4509 or

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek