This Man Exposed Racism In Golf

Person swinging golf club
Shonda Buchanan
September 23, 2020

As he teed up, he wiped salty sweat from his brow. Terror engulfed him: half the audience wanted him hanging from a tree! Apprehensively, he swung, sending the golf ball spiraling. 

Why did Lee Elder fear for his life – to play golf?

An orphaned child, Lee Elder found joy in caddying and grew to love playing golf – but the racist Professional Golfers Association refused Black golfers membership.

They were banned from tournaments, too – until he qualified for the U.S. Masters! But the worst was yet to come.

Hate mail flooded his mailbox. If he played in the Masters, they threatened, he’d be lynched! Was it worth it to make history if it could end his life?

But they couldn’t keep him down. In 1975, Elder became the first Black golfer to play in the Masters! While he didn’t win that day, his presence – and several later wins in the PGA circuit – shamed racists.

And there was an even bigger impact, too.

Elder and other Black golfers broke barriers that allowed for the rise of future golf stars like Tiger Woods.

When racists put up barriers, our self-determination, audacity, and perseverance must knock them down. Both for us, and to pave the way for future generations!

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