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Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 10:21am

National Recognition for a Macon Golf Course With a Civil Rights History

A municipally-owned golf course in Macon has made the National Register of Historic Places list. The nearly 75-year-old Charles L. Bowden Golf Course has history reaching back to the Depression-era.

Scroll down to read the National Historic Register application.

But perhaps its real place in history is as one of the first public places in Macon to integrate. In June 1961, black golfers in Macon did not play on Bowden. That despite years of petitioning by dozens of black players for equal access. They did caddie at Bowden. Maconite Nathanial Veal was a caddie when four black players took matters in their own hands.

The players told the Macon City Council that they were going to take their clubs and simply play a game.

"And then they went out and played," said Veal.

No one stopped the golfers -- and that opened the doors for other black players. Veal said it took him one day to get out on the Bowden fairways himself.

"Well, maybe not the next day but that weekend," said Veal. "I saw it on TV and every black man in Macon bought clubs and started playing golf."

Some golfers playing at Bowden on Wednesday were unaware of this history, and those who applied for National Historic Register listing for Bowden hope this will spread that story. Others did know, such as Wallace Herring, who said golf is a social equalizer.

"It's a gentleman's game. It just brings the best out of people," Herring said. "We don't look at the color of an individual, we just look at their golf game."

The National Parks Service approved that application late last month and the news became public this week.

The story of Bowden gets no fuller treatment than in the National Historic Register application. The 26-page document (which is below) fills out the history and the background. For example: