THE NOMAD GOLF CLUB
IN July, 1958 the Nomads Golf Club met in Minneapolis, Minnesota
This meeting was furthest push west since the club’s was founded in Chicago in 1950. The club had just finished a week of golf at the Keller Golf Course, when the photos displayed here were taken by the Minneapolis Tribune. Keller was one of the premiere golf facilities in the Twin Cities, host venue of the PGA’s 1949 Western Open, and one of golf’s “major” tournaments, the 1954 PGA Championship. According to the Nomads history, Journalist Carl Rowan played with the club that week, and Rowan brought Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman to the club’s awards banquet at the Radisson Hotel.
Only one photograph appeared in the Tribune – the two-shot featuring Judge Fred (Duke) Slater and Chicago Alderman Ralph Metcalfe (who was misidentified as Walter Metcalfe). Both men were classic examples of the early members.
Minneapolis, MN The Star Tribune
Ralph Metcalfe was an Olympic Gold Medalist (Berlin, 1936), a member of the winning team in the 4×100 meter dash along with fellow Nomad Jesse Owens. Metcalfe served as an Alderman in Chicago and later was elected to Congress, where he was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Judge Frederick (Duke) Slater was a football star at the University of Iowa and went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL, including 7 all-pro selections. George Halas called Slater, an offensive tackle, “the Rock of Gibraltar.” Two years after Slater retired, the NFL banned black players from 1934 through 1945. Ignored for years by league officials and sports writers, Nomad Duke Slater was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020 as a member of the league’s centennial class.
We found the second photograph in the archives of the Star-Tribune (see six men pictured above). Included in the photo are Judge Slater, (second from left) and then (from left to right) Dr. Theodore K. Lawless, Eugene Wood, Esq., Ralph Metcalfe, Dr. Harold Thatcher. This photo has never been published. The gentleman to the far left remains unidentified.
Dr. T.K. Lawless was one of the most respected dermatologists in America, and a noted banker and philanthropists. He served as the first treasurer of the Nomads. For his breakthrough work treating syphilis and leprosy, the NAACP awarded Lawless the Spingarn Prize in 1954. He was a millionaire who founded a Saving and Loan Association focused on creating affordable housing in Chicago.
Eugene (Gene) Wood, a Chicago-based lawyer, was the first Nomad president and the driving force behind the founding of the club. A group of black golfers that Wood convened at the old Wayside Golf Course (one of the few black-owned golf courses in America in 1950) became the nucleus of the Nomad Golf Club. When the Old Wayside’s clubhouse burned down, the group started its search for courses that would allow them access.
Dr. Harold Thatcher was a noted dermatologist, and Dr. Lawless’ business partner in a medical practice they established on Chicago’s south side.