Lee Elder, 1st African-American to Compete at Masters, Named Honorary Starter for 2021 Tournament

Lee Elder, the first African-American to compete at The Masters will stand alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an honorary starter at the 2021 Masters. 

Lee Elder PHOTO: Augusta National Press Photo

“Mr. Elder’s participation in the Honorary Starters Ceremony next April will recognize his courageous life and commemorate all he has done in his career to help eliminate barriers and inspire Black men and women in the game of golf and beyond. We hope that by having him serve as an Honorary Starter for the 2021 Masters that he can be joined at the first tee by family, friends and patrons for a moment that will be treasured worldwide,” said Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley in a press conference on Monday. 

Elder first competed in the Masters in 1975 and would later qualify for the Tournament for five consecutive years, 1977 through 1981. 

“The opportunity to earn an invitation to the Masters and stand at that first tee was my dream, and to have it come true in 1975 remains one of the greatest highlights of my career and life. So to be invited back to the first tee one more time to join Jack and Gary for next year’s Masters means the world to me,” said Elder in a statement. 

His best finish came in 1979, when he tied for 17th place.

Augusta National also announced that the club will fully fund a women’s golf program at Paine College and start scholarships in Elder’s name. 

Ridley added, “Through this partnership, we look forward to further cultivating our relationship with Paine College, helping the school create its first women’s golf program and celebrating Lee Elder’s distinguished legacy through these scholarships.”

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