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Before Tiger-->Peete

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  • Before Tiger-->Peete

    The slender elderly man holding court on the fairway at Langston Golf Course with a group of young black children summed up his life and his lesson for them with this dead-on verbal strike:

    "I am considered the best ball-striker in the history of the game," Calvin Peete said as the kids surrounded him. "A black man. So they can't say that we can't do it."

    Calvin Peete did it and did it well. He was considered one of golf's most accurate drivers when he played in the 1980s and won 11 PGA Tour events, including the Tournament Players Championship in 1985. He is on the short list of pioneers in golf who have blazed the trail Tiger Woods has since set on fire. Peete, like Charles Sifford and Lee Elder before him, not only had to blaze that trail as one of the few black golfers to have an impact on the game, but did so while battling -- Tourette syndrome, which wasn't diagnosed until seven years ago.

    He had it since he was a young man -- the neck-jerking, the shoulder movements -- but it became more pronounced, and eventually drove him off the Champions Tour by 2001. But Peete left his mark on that tour as well, and is still listed number one in driving accuracy percentage -- 80.9 percent -- in 56 senior events.

    Peete, 63, says his Tourette is now under control. When not with his family in Florida, he spends much of his time coming to places like Langston and helping mentors like fellow African-American Golfers Hall of Famer Jimmy Garvin -- who runs the course and oversees myriad youth golf and education programs at Langston -- convince young black men and women that they can succeed. Not just in golf, but in life.

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