The idea for compiling the History of each Chapter was born at the 2003 National hosted by Del Val at Hilton Head, South Carolina. The host club President, Gil Spriggs asked Mel Blackwell, Secretary of the DC Chapter, to provide a history of how Pro Duffers got started. After delivering the history as told to him by one of the founding members, Sewell Horad, a lively discussion ensued for several weeks thereafter calling for a complete history of all Chapters. It was agreed that this was a noble idea and an idea whose time had come. Mel Blackwell offered to compile the History if all of the Chapters would submit their history and the project was under way. After several months and great work by all of the authors, the history has been told from the eyes and lips of each Chapter. Additionally, the history of how the National Organization was formed as told by Dr. Milton Bernard, former National President and DC Chapter President, the Constitution and By-Laws, a description of National events and a future vision of Pro Duffers was shared by National President Thomas H. Sweeney, Jr.
How Pro -Duffers Got Started
Over forty five years ago -in the late fifties -a group of golfers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known as the “Del Val” golf club contacted several of their former Howard University classmates who lived in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area, and expressed an interest in engaging in some friendly golf matches-area against area.
This very intriguing idea caught the fancy of nine D.C. golfers who decided to form a golfing group, with a name. The original group included Mark Brown, Otho Ferguson, Sewell Horad, William Hyde, Hugh Jackson, Mordecai Johnson, Leon Wills, William “Bus” Lofton and John “Buster” Rector. Sewell Horad was chosen as leader (President) of the group and even though they had not decided on a name, their purpose was well defined -BEAT DEL VAL. Competitive spirit ran high, but early encounters were not too successful.
Several months after the first encounter with the Del Val group, Robert Smith (a cousin of Bus Lofton’s) and Sewell Horad met a fellow golfer at Norwest Park Golf Club who identified himself as a “profession duffer.” The next time the D.C. group met, they proposed the name “Pro-Duffers” as a suitable title. The idea was accepted unanimously, and the group became the PRO-DUFFERS GOLF CLUB.
It soon became obvious to the PRO-DUFFERS that in order to match the size and skill of the Del Val Club, they would have to expand their own membership. Their first act was to recruit all the golfers who were members of the “WHAT GOOD ARE WE SOCIAL CLUB.” Even with the increased membership, their success in defeating the Del Val Club did not change drastically. So the search began for some more skillful golfers. The next person to join the club was Booker Kent, who was sponsored by Bob Smith and Bus Lofton who had observed Booker’s game at the East Potomac Golf Course and was impressed with his ability to play.
The largest single increase in the Pro-Duffers membership took place about a year later when a group of physicians, dentist and other professionals who played golf primarily at Langston Golf Course agreed to join the club. This group headed by St. Elmo Crawford, included Thad Mumford, Joe Murray, Bus Yancy, Joe D. Saunders and others. Through the years, they continued to increase the membership to the point where they found it necessary to declare a moratorium on new members.
During the early years, even with an increased membership all meetings were held in members’ homes on a voluntary basis. It was during a meeting at Horad’s home that “Joe D.” Saunders introduced his friend and houseguest Foster Kidd, from Dallas, Texas. Kidd was so impressed with the group that he asked permission to form a group in Dallas, to be known as the Pro-Duffers Southwest. His idea met with great success in Dallas. Soon after that, a small group of golfers in Memphis, Tennessee learned about the Pro-Duffers in Washington and the expansion in Dallas, and asked permission to form a group called the Pro-Duffers Memphis. C.C. Jones headed the Memphis group.
Several years ago, Calvin D. Banks (who had been Secretary in Washington) moved to California. Soon after he settled there, Cal asked and was granted permission to form a group of golfers in that area to be known as the Pro-Duffers West. This brought the count to four Chapters. The Pro-Duffers-West Chapter never got of the ground and eventually faded into the sunset. But, not to worry, other Chapters sprang up and blossomed into strong and viable groups –among them Little Rock, Atlanta, Houston, Del Val and Northern Virginia.