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The History of Cross-Handed Golf

       Let me begin by saying that in no way am I a historian. But given the specific content of my website, I thought it would be appropriate to pull together some notable moments in the history of cross handed golfers. From what I can find, Sewsunker "Papwa" Segolum, is the first person to ever win a golf tournament playing cross handed. So therefore, I will list him first and unofficially dub him "The Father of Cross-Handed Golf."


Sewsunker Sewgolum (1930-1978)

Sewsunker Sewgolum, AKA "Papwa" was born in South Africa, circa 1930, to a blind mother. His family was of indian ethnicity and worked in Natal as sugarcane labourers. He became a caddie at a young age and his golfing talent was recognized by a German man by the name of Graham Wulff. Wulff shuttled Papwa overseas to play in various tournaments. He played the British Open in 1959. He won the Dutch open in 1960. He won the Natal Open in 1963 to become the first person of color to win a professional golf tournament in South Africa. Because of apartheid, Papwa was not allowed inside the clubhouse at the Durban Country Club where he won the Natal Open. He received his trophy through a window while standing outside in the rain. When photographs of this circulated among the golf world, other countries began imposing sanctions on South Africa. We will never know how many more tournaments he would have won or what impact Papwa would have had on the golf world, because in 1966, the apartheid government, banned Sewgolum from all local tournaments and withdrew his passport, preventing him from playing abroad. Reports say he was a broken man after being denied the ability to compete at the sport he loved. In 1978, he died impoverished at the age of 48 from a heart attack.



Charles Owens (1932–2017)

Charles Owens was born in Winter Haven, Florida in 1932. He attended Florida A&M University prior to serving in the U.S. army. He suffered injuries to both knees and his left ankle during a parachute jump at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1952 which left him handicapped. He became a professional golfer in 1967 and joined the PGA tour in 1970. He spent 7 years on the tour and won 4 times. He is credited with inventing the "belly putter." He won the Ben Hogan Award in 1987 and was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the African American Golfers Hall of Fame in 2007.