Hall W. Thompson, who touched off a national controversy when he said the all-white golf club he founded would not be pressured into accepting black members, has resigned as chairman of the board of directors of the Shoal Creek Club in Birmingham.
The resignation occurred Wednesday night at a board meeting, said Tom Rast, who was elected board president. Rast said Hall will remain as chairman of the board's golf committee, which controls the course and grounds.
In was not immediately clear why Thompson stepped down as board chairman. Thompson was unavailable for comment.
Other board members said Thompson's resignation had nothing to do with the controversy that erupted in July after he told a local newspaper the then all-white club could not be forced to accept black members, the Birmingham News reported in its editions yesterday.
Thompson was responding to City Councilman William Bell's statement that the club should not host the 1990 PGA Championship because of its exclusive membership. Thompson later apologized for the remark and said it had been taken out of context.
Civil rights groups threatened to picket the event unless the club changed its membership policies and accepted black members. The threats led some corporations to cancel television advertising during the event.
Black businessman Louis Willie subsequently was elected a member of Shoal Creek.
The controversy caused the PGA and the U.S. Golf Association to require clubs hosting tournaments to have open membership policies.
Bell said yesterday nothing was really accomplished, at least in Birmingham, by the furor over the episode.
"Locally, it has not made a difference because the acceptance of a black was pure tokenism," Bell said. "The individual they brought in has no desire to be a full participant at Shoal Creek. It was just a sham placed upon the public to bring the tournament here."
Bell also remains disappointed about the way the Southern Christian Leadership Conference settled the affair at the Shoal Creek.
"The SCLC dropped the ball by accepting Mr. Louis Willie as a resolution to the problem. I would like to have seen a truly open-door policy being created," he said. "Mr. Willie is not a golfer. He has always been someone the white community has called upon."
In response to Bell's remarks, Willie laughed and said: "Mr. Bell is a friend of mine and he's entitled to his opinion."