MLK 50: Joe Bartholomew Golf Course stands as a tribute to a groundbreaking civic leader

NEW ORLEANS - Joe Bartholomew stands among the most enterprising men out city has ever produced.

Bartholomew was a contractor, real estate investor, philanthropist, he owned an insurance company, and much more.

But his real passion was golf.

At a time when most blacks could only work to clean up golf courses, Bartholomew was not only an avid golfer, but a golf course architect.

Bartholomew's story is one of one of several that WGNO News with a Twist is telling as part of MLK 50, the yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination.

Bartholomew was designing and building golf courses that he wasn't even allowed to play on. Today, the Joseph M. Bartholomew Municipal Golf Course in Pontchartrain Park, which he also designed for African American golfers, stands a testament to his passion to make the game available for everyone

"I learned about him from some of the guys that lived around here and played with him,” Glen Dexter of Friends of Bartholomew Golf Course said. “Some of the older guys that are no longer around knew how important he was in terms of making sure that golf stayed alive in the city"

This testament to Joe Bartholomew's legacy is simply stunning. The course itself took a beating after Hurricane Katrina, but the city saw fit to bring it back better than ever. After all, this was more than just someplace to play golf, it was more like an anchor for this part of the city.

"Without the course there is no neighborhood, and without the neighborhood there is no course,” Ann McDonald of NOLA Parks and Parkways said. “And we got a lot of push back folks [saying] 'Why are y'all worrying about a golf course?' but we knew that having had such a deep history of this course and the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood as well as the African American golfer in New Orleans this was the only course they could play play at in the 50's, and although the men could go to other courses, this was still their home."