TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – This is a course that welcomes hundreds of golfers – from all walks of life – to Tallahassee every week.
“I kind of honed my game here. I probably went from a nine or 10 handicap to zero,” said Leroy Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick says the Jake Gaither Golf Course on the south side of Tallahassee is one of his favorite courses.

“We used to have fun here,” he said.

“For Kilpatrick, the course is a bit special. Back when it opened in 1956. It was one of the first dedicated courses for African Americans to play golf in Tallahassee.”

“It’s the only place you could play, the only two courses in town were Jake Gaither and the Capital City Country Club,” Kilpatrick said.

During segregated America, Jake Gaither was the only course in town where people like Kilpatrick could play.

Although he caddyed at another golf course in Tallahassee, it was not a course that African Americans could play on a regular basis.

It was on this course that he befriended other black golfers from Tallahassee.

“There weren’t a lot of black golfers here in Tallahassee back then. The few that were here converged here, we were playing together and getting to know each other,” Kilpatrick said.

Now, the city-owned golf course is making its way onto the National Register of Historic Places for its role in serving African Americans in Tallahassee.

“It’s for guys like that who fought for the golf course and stood up for the golf course, and for all that means to them,” Jan Auger said.

Auger is the general manager of the city’s golf courses.

She says the National Register of Historic Places adding Jake Gaither to its list further cements the legacy for anyone who learned to love the game in one of the only places they could.

“It’s for guys like Leroy who had to sneak out to play golf,” Auger said.

For Kilpatrick, when he learned of the historic appellation, only happiness for the course that is so close to his heart.

“When I got the call that it had happened I almost felt like screaming like I was in church, you know, you just have this good feeling,” Kilpatrick said.