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2020 Masters

Source: Augusta National / Getty

For blacks in sports, achievements are often made one athlete at a time.

Such was the case in the world of golf, a predominantly white sport that has a deep history of prejudice. But in 1975, Lee Elder broke the racial barrier, becoming the first black man to compete in The Masters, a competition of golf’s most elite players.

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“I was shaking so badly, I did not know if I was even going to be able to tee up the ball,” he recalled about the historic event. “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.”

Slowly but surely, Elder honed his golfing skills by starting as a caddie in Texas. Ted Rhodes, a fellow black golfer who served as a mentor, helped change Elder from a cross-handed player to one with a more traditional grip. Elder later be a standout figure in the United Golf Association, the tour for Blacks in the era of the PGA’s Caucasian-only rule, before earning his PGA Tour card in 1967, winning four times and qualifying for the 1979 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Renee Powell, the second Black woman to compete on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, took to social media share her grief over the loss of a fellow competitor and dear friend.
“Lee had called me last week about doing a project together this summer,” Powell said via Facebook.

Thank you for your contributions to the sport, Mr. Elder.

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Lee Elder, First Black Golfer To Play In Masters, Dead At 87  was originally published on wzakcleveland.com