Black golfers were having problems playing organized golf in the state of Florida in the early 1970s. In 1972, Robert Saffold of Sebring, Florida, talked with several Black golfers during the "Sephia Open (Pro-Am) Golf Tournament" held in Sebring at the Harder Hall Golf Course. At that session, the golfers discussed the formation of a statewide organization that would welcome all Black golfers and allow them to participate in friendly tournament competition.
Included among this pioneering group of Black golfers were Ed Henry, Ernest King, James Hastie, Danny Sutton, Eddie Postell, Leonard Wilson, and Robert Saffold. This distinguished list of golfers noted that several cities in Florida at that time had organized tournaments such as Tampa (Rogers Park), Jacksonville (Moncrief), Ocala (Compton #2), and Miami (North/South @ Miami Springs). They opened discussions that led to this concept turning into a reality.
This initial group's preliminary discussions led them to invite others to the planning sessions. Participation in these initial stages constituted the formation of a central planning body and the birth of a coalition called the Sunshine State Golfers Association. The group began with five (5) small clubs: Palmview Golfers Association (Ft. Lauderdale), Elite Swingers (Pinellas County), Florida Sportsmen's Association (Sebring), Miami Par, and Birdie of Lakeland.
Ernest King of Ft. Lauderdale served as the first President from 1972-1975, followed by Leonard Wilson (1976-78), Robert Saffold (1979-81), and Maurice Wallace (1982-85). These outstanding presidents revised the organization's constitution and by-laws, increased affiliate membership, and developed tournament standards, and the tournament competition improved with participation at quality golf courses. Other elected presidents included Ms. Ella Morehead (1986-89), Charlie Pelham (1990-93), Willie Jones (1994-97/Miami), Edward Maynor (1998-2001), Clewis Wright (2002-2005), Curtis Williams (2006-2009), Herbie Pitters (2010-2013), and Mac Johnson (2014-2017). The current President is Gregory Vereen from West Palm Beach, Florida.
The organization officially registered with the state of Florida as a not-for-profit corporation under the name Sunshine State Amateur Golfers Association, Inc. in 1984. In 1989, the group received its 501(c)(3) tax exemption certificate from the Internal Revenue Service.
SSAGA is the only principally African-American statewide association of male and female golfers in the United States. Ten (10) clubs comprise the association and approximately 1,000 golfers of all ethnicities from Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Naples/Ft. Myers, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Ft. Pierce/Vero Beach, Titusville, Sebring, Lakeland, and St. Augustine form the membership. Through regularly scheduled tournaments, members and associate members enjoy camaraderie among those who love the game. SSAGA contributes more than $800,000 annually to Florida's economy through the hosting of local and state tournaments and other golf-related activities.