BIRMINGHAM, JULY 26 -- Mayor Richard Arrington, trying to quell the controversy surrounding the PGA Championship, said today that Shoal Creek Country Club assured him it would begin considering blacks for membership.
The new policy, however, probably will not deter demonstrators from picketing the tournament site, Aug. 9-12, when one of professional golf's major events comes to the all-white club.
Three major sponsors -- IBM, Toyota and Anheuser-Busch -- have already said they are dropping their advertisements during ABC and ESPN telecasts of the championship because of Shoal Creek's membership policy.
Today, Delta Airlines, the official airline of the PGA, was also said to be reducing its level of participation.
At a news conference, Arrington, who is black, produced a clarification of Shoal Creek's bylaws and a letter from Thompson. Both said no proposed member would be turned down because of race.
However, the Rev. Abraham Woods, president of the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference who has been organizing demonstrations, said he wanted "something more than on paper" before he would call off the protestors.
In Atlanta, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the PGA protest would extend to the Masters, the most prestigious of U.S. tournaments. He promised to call for advertisers to boycott the Masters next year if the Augusta National Golf Club continues to exclude black members.