Alfred Tup Holmes Golf Course
Alfred "Tup" Holmes
Alfred "Tup" Holmes Golf Course
Alfred "Tup" Holmes
Backstory and Context
In 1951, Alfred "Tup" Holmes, his brother Oliver, and Dr. Hamilton M. Holmes stepped onto the Bobby Jones golf course-one of seven public courses in Atlanta at the time. They were ordered to leave the course because they were Black; The trio filed a lawsuit in response. Through their tenacity and the support of many in the community, the three men pushed their case from the local courts to the Supreme Court.
In 1954, the Holmes' won a victory at the District Court level that might have ended the case. Judge Boyd Sloan ruled that African Americans had the right to play golf at publicly-supported courses, but only in accordance with the city's separate but equal doctrine. Although the decision represented a victory, the judge had merely ordered the city to create an arrangement that allowed limited access to public courses. The city agreed to open one course on one or two days per week
Tup Holmes decided to press the case further, at great risk. He rejected the system of partial access to public facilities and worked to get the case before the US Supreme Court. The Court agreed to hear the case in 1955-one year after the landmark decision in Brown v. Board that ruled that separate but equal accommodations were a violation of the 14th Amendment. The court ordered an end to all discriminatory practices at public courses. A New York Times editorial hailed the decision on Nov. 9, 1955, supporting the Court's decision that "desegregation means desegregation, not segregation on an equal basis." According to law, public golf courses must be open to all. However, the decision did not apply to private courses.
Tup's memory lives on in Atlanta today. Garrett Gill and George B. Williams designed Alfred "Tup" Holmes Golf Course. The course is located just fifteen minutes north of Atlanta international airport, and all are welcome thanks to the efforts of Tup Holmes and his family.