Lee Elder, First Black Golfer to Play at the Masters, Dead at 87
Elder made history in 1975 at Augusta National
Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play at the Masters at Augusta National, has passed away at the age of 87.
Elder, who made history in 1975 at Augusta National by playing in the previously all-white tournament after receiving an invitation to compete following his Monsanto Open win, developed his golf game during segregated times while caddying.
The PGA Tour confirmed Elder’s death with his family, but no cause of death or details were immediately available.
A native of Texas who was honored alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an honorary starter at the 2021 Masters Elder told CNN in 2015 that making his Masters debut was a “very nerve-racking” experience.
“I was shaking so badly, I did not know if I was even going to be able to tee up the ball,” he said. “How I got through it I do not know, just with the help of the Almighty I got there and was able to put my ball on the tee.”
Elder missed the cut during his first appearance at the Masters, though he returned to the tournament five more times, tying for 19th place in 1977 and 17th in 1979.
“I did consider not going,” Elder said. “It was on my mind and I think the reason why I had thought about it was because it had been so difficult qualifying for the Masters. I knew it was something I had wanted ever since I came on to the Tour.”
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