For Immediate Release
Friday, September 23, 2022
Contact: Mark Ard
PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Announces the Designation of Jake Gaither Golf Course in the National Register of Historic Places
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced today that Jake Gaither Golf Course in Tallahassee, Leon County, has been listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
“I am pleased to announce that Jake Gaither Golf Course has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. "This golf course served as the only public venue for Tallahassee’s African American golfers in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, it welcomes all golfers and promotes the growth of the game by offering a challenge to players of all skill levels and abilities.”
Jake Gaither Golf Course, named in honor of legendary Florida A&M University head football coach Alonzo Smith “Jake” Gaither, is a 120-acre, 9-hole municipal golf course located in Tallahassee’s Lee Manor neighborhood. Starting in 1953, African Americans advocated for the City of Tallahassee to establish a park and golf course for the Black community. The City completed the golf course and adjoining park in 1956. In October 1960, the City thoroughly redesigned the golf course, which eliminated holes subject to flooding and rerouted several others to wrap around wetlands. More recent changes have made the golf course more playable. The current layout and appearance dates from 1998, but the 9-holes still follow historic routing established in the 1960 redesign.
"The Jake Gaither Golf Course has been a pillar of the community for decades. It was the first local course to give African Americans an opportunity to play the sport, and many have flourished because of it," Mayor John E. Dailey said. "This national recognition reflects the dedication of staff, golfers and volunteers who have given their time and talents over the years to make the course a welcoming place for all."
"The importance of Jake Gaither Golf Course is the community of people who have played there," says Jan Auger, General Manager of Golf for the City. "They helped diversify golf in Tallahassee by teaching and mentoring young people and women. It's a golf course for everyone, and I'm glad it's finally getting the recognition it deserves."
View looking south towards hole #7 green at Jake Gaither Golf Course.
Photograph by Scott Edwards, Florida Department of State.
During the era of de facto racial segregation that followed the Brown vs. Board decision in 1954, Jake Gaither Golf Course allowed African American golfers to play at any time on a challenging course, which contrasted with privately owned golf clubs from which they were often excluded. Prior to its opening, African Americans golfers in Tallahassee were limited to working as caddies at segregated golf courses and could only play at these courses at very limited times, if at all. From its beginning, Jake Gaither Golf Course offered lessons and instruction to interested youth, hosted tournaments for Black players, and served as the primary golf course for the Florida A&M golf team for many years. Following the passage of national civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s, the golf course diversified in membership. Today, it remains a fixture in Tallahassee’s golf community and an important piece in the history of the local civil rights movement.
Jake Gaither Golf Course is the oldest of the two municipally owned and operated golf courses in Tallahassee. The Department of State is looking forward to Jake Gaither Golf Course becoming a partner on the Florida Historic Golf Trail. For more information about Jake Gaither Golf Course, including hours of operation and upcoming events, visit JakeGaitherGolf.com.
About The National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service which includes historical and archaeological properties including buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts, that are considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. Florida has over 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 295 historic districts and 175 archaeological sites. There are more than 50,000 sites contributing to the National Register in Florida. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/national-register. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program administered by the National Park Service, visit nps.gov/nr.
About The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation
The Bureau of Historic Preservation (BHP) conducts historic preservation programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving, and interpreting the historic and cultural resources of the state. The Bureau manages the Florida Main Street Program, and under federal and state laws, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida, maintains an inventory of the state's historical resources in the Florida Master Site File, assists applicants in federal tax benefit and local government ad valorem tax relief programs for historic buildings, and reviews the impact that development projects may have on significant historic resources. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation.