Mr. Jimmy Slemmons started the Bronze Open Golf Tournament in 1939. The Bronze Open gave minorities an opportunity to play and compete against the best golfers at any level. The tournament was renamed the Upper Midwest Bronze Amateur Open in 1954 to reflect its unrestricted entry policy. After the passing of Mr. Slemmons, the tournament was renamed Bronze Amateur Memorial in his honor.

From 1997 to 2005, responsibility for the “Bronze” fell upon Mr. Isaac Bassett and Mr. Leroy Spicer, avid golfers, and community supporters. Under their direction, the organization was renamed Upper Midwest Bronze Amateur Memorial on July 12, 2005, and reorganized into a non-profit 501 (c) (3) on December 30, 2008. Those two men chose Mr. Darwin Dean to continue the legacy of “The Bronze.”

Since its inception, “The Bronze” has continued the tradition of inviting golfers and friends from across the country to compete and give something back to the community and junior golfers. We invite you to join us in the celebration of golf on July 29, 2023, at a 9:00 A.M. shotgun start at Hiawatha Golf Course, 4553 Longfellow Ave.

Minneapolis, MN 55407. Contact: (612) 230-6525.


Trophy winners at the Bronze Amateur Golf Tournament. Theodore ‘Ted’ Allen, center; James W. ‘Jimmy’ Slemmons, right. 1940s.

Here’s to 80 years of the Bronze!

Long ago, a determined Jimmy Slemmons started one of the first golf tournaments for Black Americans in the U.S. right here in Minneapolis. The Bronze Amateur began in 1939, back when things were, you could say, a bit different. We as a people could not vote; we literally had to fight just to live.

The game of golf, like tennis, has long been perceived as an elitist sport, one for White country club members who could afford to play privately among friends, while Blacks were forced to caddie. Continue below↓ 

80 years of the Bronze!

Slemmons’ Bronze golf tournament caught on in Minnesota and word spread that Black players who could play could compete. The Bronze was a 36-hole tournament for many years and was a summer social success in the Black community. To think that heavyweight champion Joe Louis once played in the Bronze speaks volumes. Slemmons’ passion and vision guided the tournament and it grew year after year.

But over time, as we grew as a people and expanded our rights to equality and the pursuit of the American dream, the Bronze lost some of its meaning. Slemmons eventually passed the Bronze on for safekeeping to the Twin Cities Golf Club and its members Thad Nicolas and Dick Kelly.

Eventually, the capable Darwin Dean took over and has managed the Bronze since 2012.

This year, Dean had historic photos positioned all over the course on tee boxes reminding the 2019 players that we were continuing a landmark historic tradition.

This year’s Bronze was held Saturday, July 28, as many have been held the last weekend in July. The tournament was held at Theodore Wirth in Golden Valey, a great test of golf established in 1916.

It was hot, 88 degrees, and the course was in good condition. KMOJ’s Walter (Q-Bear) Banks, Jr. was master of music, spinning tunes before during and after the competition.

Louis King and his talented crew provided a tasty BBQ meal for the 80 hungry golfers after their 18-hole round. Due to health reasons, the great Ed Manderville did not play this year.

It was a thrill for me to be a part of the 80th Bronze. Since moving to Minneapolis in 1978 and taking up the game, the history of the Bronze has moved me. Ex-Vikings star Teddy Brown played with me and shot 86 and won a $200 Skin.

So many friends we’ve lost over time who played in this tournament makes playing even more special. People like Richard Green, Clyde Smith, Vince Wilson, Jack Smith are a few names stuck in our memories. Thanks to all the competitors who played and the winners of the different flights of the 2019 Bronze. Here’s to the 80th Bronze!

Larry Fitzgerald Sr.

Doors that were closed to blacks

He led way through doors that were closed to blacks

Barbara Cyrus

Minneapolis Star and Tribune Saturday/May 28/1983/2C

In the last days before James W. Slemmons died
on April 25, 1983, at 71, when it was known how ill
he was and wherever people who knew him
happened to be, they invariably talked at length
about his life.

We talk a lot these days about leadership and role
models, and during his life I think we may not
have recognized what was so obvious-that he was
a leader and a role model. Such omissions are not
intentional. It is just that when people are
gregarious, as Slemmons was, we tend to take
their contributions for granted because their style
is social.

To dispel the idea that anything was easy for
Slemmons, one has only to look at conditions for
blacks during his youth, and having looked, to
marvel that he kept moving upward.
There were no open doors when he was growing
up. It was indeed the time of Ralph Ellison’s
“Invisible Man.”

Rejection in the workplace was so common that
many chose to avoid the humiliation of the closed
door by staying in accepted jobs or simply waiting
for something to happen.
As for the public schools, there was little
encouragement for the young black. Counselors,
If they said anything, advised young people to
prepare for a life of service.

James Slemmons could not stand still. From the
time he was orphaned as a young boy, he worked
at any odd job he could find. When he was not
working, he was a leader on the playground at
Greeley School–remarkable then because there
was little integration even at play-and he was a
leader among the boys at St. Thomas Church.

The church was then at 29th St. and 5th Av. and
services were held in the basement until the
upper floor could be finished. One of my earliest

memories of fund-raising was the time Slemmons
organized a drive to raise money for the building
by selling symbolic imitation bricks at $1 apiece.

Well do I remember the Sunday when after
church services he rounded up the Sunday school,
drove us to a residential area, gave us the bricks
and instructions on how to sell them. People may
have been too surprised to say no, for those who
grew up in his shadow would see him become a
superb salesman. He would turn up at doors
seiling refrigerators, defivering milk and
delivering bread.

We would see him driving the white milk truck or
the yellow bread truck–always with a smile and
always wearing the new uniforms with flair. Some
of those jobs may seem commonplace today but,
in those years, each breakthrough led to other
doors being opened, but slowly.

The organization of the Bronze Amateur Golf
Tournament in 1942 was probably the
achievement for which Slemmons will be most
remembered. Those tournaments were heady, big-
time events, attracting thousands of golfers during
the years and bringing thousands of dollars in
revenue to Minneapolis.

Many men and women took up golf at the time
just to enter the crowded field of competition. The
number of prizes that were donated by merchants
was endless. No matter how high one’s score was
there would be some kind of prize at the end.

Awarding the prizes was a colossal job, often
lasting until midnight. However, with the aid of
prominent tournament officials Ted Allen and the
late James Oliver, it was accomplished to every
one’s satisfaction.

Socially, Slemmons was a great leveler. In his
youth, there were many social divisions among
Twin Citlans based on where you lived, where you
worked, where you went to school, or almost any
artificial standard. But the tournament weekend
was one time when everyone met on the same
level. On Sunday, the last day of the event, the

gallery would be so large that one would think the
whole population of another city had been brought

Slemmons was the consummate showman and
each year his wardrobe was planned to delight
and awe his friends and admirers. He even had
shoes to match his golfing wardrobe when most of
us thought they only came in brown.

His wife of nearly 50 years, Beatrice, played a
very important role in producing the tournaments
Graciously presiding over the pre-tournament
cocktail party, they were the royal couple of the

Somehow, with all of his activities, Slemmons
found time to become active politically. Fortunate
was the candidate with his support. He devoted all
of his energies to his commitments.

I remember one spring day when there was a
flurry of activity on Portland Av. Who should be
there putting up signs for a Republican candidate
on every lawn in a heavily populated Democratic
ward but Jimmie. Oh, there were Republicans
around, but no one ever saw one working out in
the open. It was amazing and we could only
wonder what he would do next.

As time goes by, I think people will remember
Slemmons as one of the most colorful and
interesting men of his time. He was an original-
one of a kind. During his lifetime he brought joy
and good times to thousands. We cannot
overestimate the importance of the person who
contributes in this way since it balances the hard

Although there is no specific evidence of it, I’m
sure that along the way Slemmons must have had
to fight against dismaying odds. It was Albert
Einstein who said, “Great spirits have always
found violent opposition from mediocrities,’
” and James Slemmons was a great spirit.

Barbara Cyrus lives in south Minneapolis.



1939 – James Lee
1940 – Jay Wright
1941 – Bert Davidson
1942 – WW2 
1946 – Charles Noble
1947 – Ezzie Allen
1948 – Charles Johnson
1949 – Charles Noble
1950 – John Williams
1951 – Leo Johnson
1952 – Robert Marks
1953 – Leroy Tyus
1954 – Ernie Harris
1955 – Dr. R.G. Robinson
1956 – Dr. R.G. Robinson
1957 – Joe Louis
1958 – Louis Dade
1959 – Calvin Tanner
1960 – Calvin Tanner
1961 – Calvin Tanner
1962 – Arlin Meadows
1963 – Jerry Gruidl
1964 – Brian Field
1965 – Jack Kelley
1966 – Jerry Longie

1967 – Mike Lanigan
1968 – Bill Bakken
1969 – Neil Croonquist
1970 – Dick Blooston
1971 – Steve Howe
1972 – Al King
1973 – Mel Harris
1974 – Mel Harris
1975 – Tom Woodard
1976 – E. David Johnson
1977 – Tom Woodard
1978 – Tom Woodard
1979 – Dan Anderson
1980 – Dennis Kowalski
1981 – Tom Cotter
1982 – Tom Cotter
1983 – Larry Opatz
1984 – Gary Opatz
1985 – Dave Podas
1986 – Tom Binder
1987 – Charles Portis
1988 – Tommy Williams
1989 – Chris Brown
1990 – Tommy Williams
1991 – Tommy Williams

1992 – Chris Brown
1993 – Joe Stansberry
1994 – Marcus Bell
1995 – Pete Sax
1996 – James Patterson
1997 – Clayton Soltari
1998 – Tony Morrow
1999 – No Record- 2008
2009 – Greg Evans
2010 – Pat Davis
2011 – D. J. Wright
2012 – D. J. Wright
2013 – Darwin Dean
2014 – Q. A. Shakoor II
2015 – Pat Davis
2016 – Pat Davis
2017 – Josh Williams
2018 – Peter Omeke
2019 – Toby Crain
2020 – Covid 19

2021 – Bobby Ongechi

2022 – Tony Scheurman

2023 – Nate Schammel


1976 – Barb Arrell
1978 – Patty Weisbrich
1979 – Gail Laurie
1980 – Barb Arrell
1981 – Patty Weisbrich
1982 – Sharon Morin
1983 – Wendy Hudler
1984 – Brenda Elliot
1985 – Gail Laurie
1986 – Gail Laurie
1987 – Mary Forman
1988 – Karen Lund
1989 – Karen Lund
1990 – Lynnette Landry
1991 – Lynnette Landry
2010 – Vickie Burns
2011 – No Entry
2012 – Martha Arradondo
2013 – Rhonda Dean
2014 – Martha Arradondo
2015 – Vickie Burns
2016 – Deanna Strothers
2017 – Lyanna Hutchinson
2018 – Gloria Harris
2019 – Ann Thompson
2020 – Covid 19
2021 – Kathryn Kelly
2022 – Kathryn Kelly



The Upper Midwest Bronze Golf Tournament was originally called the Minnesota Negro Open Golf Tournament. It was started in 1939 by Jimmie Slemmons and run by him for several decades. Thaddeus Nicholas and Dick Kelly took over the running of the tournament from Jimmy Slemmons. In 2012, Darwin Dean took over the responsibilities for the tournament.

IN 2022


By doing what’s right and saving 18-holes of championship golf at the Hiawatha Golf Club for future generations.

1922 “Plan for the Improvement of Lake Hiawatha, providing a golf course and a playground, etc.” by Theodore Wirth

Shopping Cart