Pleas Jones Story by Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Pleas Jones was about 8 or 9 years old when he was first introduced to the game of golf around 1949. “Back in ’49 one of my neighbors mentioned the city was going to build a golf course at Douglass Park in north Memphis,” said Jones. “They came out with bulldozers one day and began cutting down trees and leveling the land. I had no idea what golf was at the time. I had never heard of it, but a group of black golfers had gotten together and went to work to get an 18-hole golf course built.” In those days, black golfers didn’t have an 18-hole course to play at and they were not welcomed at the 18-hole courses, like Audubon, designed for whites. “I learned a lot about the game of golf from Dollar Sanders,” said Jones who was real observant of the game. “I devoted a lot of time learning the game. I had a good start and it helped by working on as a caddy. Way back in the 50’s, my friends and I would slip out at night to play at Douglass. There were two holes that ran right down the side of Ash Street. The holes were lit by street lights. One light was right in front of our house and the other, the one we would hit at, was right there where Douglass Elementary School was at the corner of Amett and Ash streets. There were many occasions when we would get chased off by the police.” Jones said he got to be so good at the game that when he would hit the ball he knew the direction it would travel in when it left his club. “I knew which direction to go looking for my ball in,” said Jones. “By the time I would walk down there I would see it. I could identify and see it from the street light. We did that for quite a while.” Jones said the reason why he fell in love with the game of golf had a direct relationship to black golfers of the day like Dollar Sanders, Rob and Dick Wright and others who would come to the course to practice and play. “They were hitting and we were tagging the balls,” said Jones referring to picking up golf balls. “There I was enjoying myself chasing those balls and when we would get through they paid us! That is what fascinated me. I would have chased those balls for free. Can you imagine, between 1949 and 1951, chasing golf balls and putting them in a bag and getting 50 cents for doing it? That was a pretty good little piece of change in those days.” Jones was fascinated as he watched Sanders play golf. “I had never seen anybody hit a ball that far,” said Jones. “To see a ball travel up to 250 yards. The only thing I had seen at that time was baseball.” The Douglass 9-hole golf course opened around 1951 and a need for caddies to carry the players golf bags developed quickly. “I didn’t know the players, but I remember when the course opened in 1951,” said Jones. “I was about 8 or 9 years old. Back then they didn’t have golf carts, not even pull carts. We had to tote those bags and that’s how I got into it. I was good early and I played the game for the love of the game.” During those years, clubs were grouped by location and Memphis was part of the Central States Golf Clubs. “You could only play in the tournament if you were a member of a member club,” said Jones. “One year at our meeting it was decided to hold the tournament in Memphis. It had been to other cities, but it had never been held in Memphis because the black golfers did not have an 18-hole golf course. When it was voted to hold the tournament in Memphis, a group of the more prominent and well-known blacks petitioned the powers to be and got permission to hold the event at segregated Audubon Park Golf Course. They loaned us the course, but didn’t want to keep doing that, so it was kind of easy to talk the city into building an 18-hole course for blacks even though it was our dollars that funded Audubon. We were discriminated against in a lot of other things, but we know better 10

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