We’d like to take a moment to pay our respects as Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play in the Masters, has died at the age of 87. His cause of death is unknown at this time.
Elder was a true pioneer in the game of golf, facing down racism, breaking through barriers and carving a path for Tiger Woods and others to follow.
Elder, who is from Texas, developed his game during segregated times while caddying and hustling for rounds. He made history in 1975 at the Augusta National, which was an all-white tournament until Elder received an invitation after winning the Monsanto Open the year before.
Now while Elder did not win the Masters back then, he forever stamped himself as a groundbreaking figure in a sport that had never been known for racial tolerance.
And wouldn’t you know it, 22 years later, Tiger Woods became the first Black golfer to capture the green jacket, launching one of the greatest careers in golf history.
And Woods credits Elders and Charlie Sifford, the tour’s first Black player, as being two of his inspirations.
Woods said he thought of them as he was coming up the 18, and acknowledged that he wouldn’t be where he is today without those who “went first” Like Elders did.
Now of course, Elders was at Augusta National for Woods’ historic win in 1997…saying that he wasn’t about to miss seeing a Black golfer win the tournament for the first time.
RIP Lee Elders, thanks for paving the way.