For the last six years, the African Caribbean Golf Association has been challenging taboos and raising awareness of a disease that hits one-in-four black men. We meet four of its members and find out how it all began.
It’s fair to say that before Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in the late 1990s, black men weren’t prominent in golf. And those who were playing were often ignored by the media.
“I think the only black player you had was Calvin Peete,” says Franklyn Skinner of the US golfer who played in the 1980s. “But you would never see them play, even though they might be doing well in the tournament. That’s how things were at the time.”
It was during this period that the African Caribbean Golf Association (ACGA) came about, with four black friends – including Franklyn and Tony Johnson – playing four-ball at a Middlesex golf club.
“It was the funniest thing ever,” says Tony of the hush that descended as they stood at the first tee by the clubhouse.
“You could see five or six people at the windows, trying to work out if we could actually hit this ball or not. And we all hit shots that we would probably never replicate ever again! They went straight down the middle. We walked past and gave a wave to the twitching curtains.”
The ACGA’s membership has waxed and waned from a peak of 90 since it was officially founded in 1992, and at one time they counted eight professionals among them. They’ve played other golf societies all over the UK and Ireland, touring some of the finest courses.
Six years ago, the ACGA’s then-captain, Jacqui Harbour, decided to make Prostate Cancer UK their charity of the year. The decision lifted the lid on a disease that turned out to have affected many of their members and prompted Jacqui’s own partner and fellow member, Tyrone Carter [pictured with Jacqui above], to get tested.
“I discovered I had prostate cancer in August 2015,” says Tyrone. “I started my treatment six months later and finished hormone therapy in October. Hopefully now I’ll only have to go for six monthly check-ups.”
The association continues to hand out our prostate information to all their members and has come up with some great ways to raise money for us as they play.“We have something called the ‘blobometer’, created and run by our member, Steve Garner,” says Roger Goddard, current captain of ACGA, whose father and uncle have died from prostate cancer.
“Every time we scratch a hole or don’t score a point, we contribute a pound towards the blob count and that money goes directly to Prostate Cancer UK. We’ve also introduced a betting sweep where a proportion goes to the charity.”
In African and Caribbean societies, men don’t really talk about it
It all helps to raise awareness among black men, who are often reluctant to discuss their health yet are twice as likely as other men to get prostate cancer, with one-in-four getting the disease.
“In African and Caribbean societies, men don’t really talk about it,” says Franklyn, who is being monitored for an enlarged prostate and whose father died from prostate cancer.
“You hear the old thing,‘no one is sticking a finger up my backside’, and all that. But it’s a blood test you get.”
Tony is even more forthright with his advice: “Forget the stigma of what goes on for the testing and forget being macho. If you want to live, go and get tested and keep getting yourself tested.”