Image copyright Getty Images Image caption David Brewer was the first African-American pro to play the British Open
David Brewer, the first African-American pro golfer to play in the British Open, has died aged 75.
Brewer’s first golf lesson was at the age of four, and he played in his first European Tour event aged 14.
The golfer progressed all the way up to the PGA Tour, in which he won one tournament, but played mainly amateur golf.
He led a march protesting against racism on tour in 1989.
Beer won his first European Tour event in 1977 aged 16 – a prize money of £6,500.
However, he struggled with his swing and alcohol abuse, and in 1981 had to leave the tour.
Beer, a career alcoholic, went to rehab in 1981 after pleading guilty to three misdemeanour charges of reckless driving.
“I didn’t get to pick where my golf was going to go but in the last eight months, the whole thing just kind of fell apart,” he said at the time.
In 1988 he founded the Rootstation Club, a charity aimed at highlighting the plight of underprivileged African-Americans.
“It’s really important that the programmes we’ve set up are educating youngsters about these issues because we do think it would be a major catalyst, really, to prevent the next David Brewer from having to go through the struggles that he did,” he told the BBC in 1988.
Brewer became assistant pro at the Vanderbilt Golf Club in New Jersey in 1998, then became full-time when he moved to Florida, where he now lives.
A group of NBA and NHL players met with him in 1986 after seeking him out as someone to mentor their kids.
Igor Silnov, senior associate director of the Arthur Ashe Institute at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism Management, called him a “legend” and praised his work as a coach.
“I think he’s certainly a pioneer and a trailblazer, if not the trailblazer,” he said.
“I think he’s definitely a humble man but certainly someone who knows what it’s like to be a black man who drives an all-white car, you know, being kind of kind of left out and working in a background, something that’s very natural to David.
“Just because he achieved something, it doesn’t mean he didn’t have to work hard for it. He had to really grind it out. He had a difficult upbringing and came to this country and did not have a lot to go on.
“But what I think David and the backbone that held all of the other players together was to always say, ‘You don’t have to believe what you’re told, you don’t have to give up’.
“You didn’t have to be afraid of saying, ‘I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to go that way,’ and you did that and made it into something that was very successful.”
Brewer was inducted into the Northern Ireland Golf Hall of Fame in 2014.