Before there was Tiger Woods, there was Calvin Peete.
Peete, who won 12 PGA events in his career and earned the nickname “Mr. Accuracy” for his ability to hit long and accurate drives, has died at the age of 71. Prior to Woods taking the pro golf world by storm in 1996, Peete was by far the most successful Black golfer in history.
Born in Detroit in 1943, Peete was a latecomer to golf and didn’t take up the game until he was in his mid-20s. He found the game came to him with ease and he was able to excel despite being unable to fully extend his left elbow — the result of a broken arm in his childhood that never healed properly.
In 1975 Peete turned pro and proved to be one of the most formidable golfers on the scene for well over two decades. He led the PGA in driving accuracy every year between 1981 and 1990. Between 1979 and 1986 he racked up a dozen wins on the PGA tour and two major tournaments in Japan. He retired from the pro circuit in 2001 and was inducted into the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
“Everyone in the family admired and loved him,” said his widow Pepper Peete via a statement forwarded by the PGA Tour. “He took the Peete name to another level. We are so thankful that he was in our lives as a father, husband and role model. He was a blessing, and he will be missed.”
Calvin Peete is survived by his wife, Pepper, and seven children.