Lee Elder, who broke the Masters color barrier, dies at 87 | Golf News and Tour Information

Lee Elder, who broke the color barrier at the Masters, died on Sunday. He was 87 years old.

Elder has made 448 starts on the PGA Tour, earning four wins. His victory at the 1974 Monsanto Open earned him an invitation to the 1975 Masters, where he became the first black golfer to compete in the tournament. It was a feat that brought out the worst in humanity, as Elder received death threats before he appeared at Augusta National. The danger forced Elder to rent two houses during Masters Week so that his would-be antagonists wouldn’t know where he was. Faced with this cruelty, Elder shot 74 and 78, missing the cut. He would play at the Masters five more times, his best result a T-17 in 1979.

In the fall of 2020, Augusta National announced that it would be celebrating Elder’s legacy by naming him honorary starter along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the 2021 annual Masters ceremony. from hitting a first tee shot in April, he was able to join Nicklaus and Player on the first tee and received the loudest ovation of the three.

“For me and my family, I think this was one of the most moving experiences I have ever seen or been part of,” Elder said after the ceremony. “It’s definitely something I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

The Masters wasn’t the only tournament Elder proved to be a pioneer of. He became the first black Ryder Cup player, making Team USA in 1979. “Looking back on the accomplishments I’ve had in my life,” Elder told Golf Digest in 2020, “the only thing what I’m most proud of is playing in the Ryder Cup and representing my country, he also took part in the 1971 South African PGA Championship, the first event embedded in the midst of Africa’s apartheid policies from South.

His accolades were not limited to the golf course. Elder developed a scholarship for young low-income men and women seeking money for college, served on the board of Goodwill, and was a fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund. Additionally, Augusta National announced in 2020 that it would fund the establishment of a women’s golf program at Paine College, a historically black college and university located in Augusta, as well as the establishment of the Lee Elder Scholarships at Paine College in its honor.

Michael C. Ford