St. Augustine mini-golf course has place in civil rights history

by: Brittany Jones Updated:

Putt putt

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The Nation's Oldest City is now trying to register a miniature golf course as a national historic place. The course has played a significant role in the civil rights movement.

African-Americans were not allowed to step foot onto the golf course 50 years ago but the civil rights movement changed it all. Miniature golf is something many see as a leisure activity. But the city of St. Augustine's bayfront mini-golf course holds a much more important role in history.

This is where desegregation began in St. Augustine. African-Americans say there was an unwritten rule, but some say it was a known policy to stay off the course.

“We would go other places and could use the black golf course and things but things weren't integrated they were segregated but you just couldn't use it,” said 91-year-old civil rights activist Barbara Vickers. Vickers said she had to drive to Jacksonville to play on a black-only course.

But 1964 would change the rules. The Civil Rights Act was signed, the city commission would approve it and this golf course would become the first public place in St. Augustine to allow blacks. 

“It means a lot to me to have lived this long to see how the changes have been made,” Vickers said. 

A member of St. Augustine's architectural review board, Paul Weaver, did the research.  

“(It was) simple justice for people that were paying their taxes and supporting it but weren't allowed to come here and do something as simple as play miniature golf,” Weaver said. 

Now the city is trying to register the course as one of the nation’s historic places to show the role this course played during civil rights.

That was a time period Vickers said she won't forget but is glad she put up a fight. “It makes you feel proud,” she said.

African-Americans say they're proud of how far St. Augustine has come but say there's still a long way to go, much bigger than this golf course.

Weaver said registering for the National Register of Historic Places is a very lengthy process. The application still has to be reviewed on both the state and local levels before it heads to the federal level. The St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board will discuss it at its meeting on July 17.