Lee Elder, first Black golfer to compete in Masters Tournament, dead at 87.
Honorary starter Lee Elder waves to the crowd Thursday morning as he is introduced during the ceremonial tee shot portion of the 2021 Masters in Augusta.
Lee Elder, who became the first Black American to compete in the Masters Tournament in 1975, has died, according to reports. He was 87.
Lee Elder has passed away at the age of 87.
We are sad to announce that the first African American who competed at The Masters passed away. Lee Elder’s cause of death is yet to be announced but his death news has been confirmed.
Lee Elder Cause of Death
One of his friends, Renee Powell, released Lee Elder’s death news on Facebook, writing:
“Overnight, I was very saddened to hear of the death of my good friend Lee Elder. Lee had called me last week about doing a project together this summer. We actually joined our perspective Tours together after both winning the United Golfers Association (UGA) National in the same year. For those who don’t know, the UGA was an amateur body of African-American golfers that included divisions for women, men, junior boys and girls, and a professional division. They operated a series of tournaments during the era of racial segregation in the U.S. As the years went by, Lee and I were partners in the JC Penney Team Championship at Doral. This year, I was proudly standing next to the first tee at Augusta National when Lee was given Honorary Starter status alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to open the Masters. Thank goodness, Lee was finally recognized there! Please keep his wife, Sharon, in your prayers.”
Lee Elder’s death news was released on Sunday, November 28, 2021, less than a year after he served as a Masters honorary starter for the first time, alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, at Augusta National.
Elder won on the PGA Tour four times, but it was his fights against exclusivity that will be as remembered far more than his play. He was a champion of racial justice and was a pioneer who destroyed the walls of segregation at Augusta National in 1975 when he became the first Black golfer to participate in the Masters.
Reactions to Lee Elder’s Death News
Several fans, friends, and supporters reacted and stated their condolences on social media websites following this tragic news.
One of his fans tweeted: “RIP Lee Elder. Golfing legend and racial trailblazer in golf. Elder was the first black golfer at @themasters! Courage and talent.”
Another posted: Sometimes getting to the first tee is a major accomplishment. Lee Elder was a pioneer for the game on and off the course. We are lucky to have someone like Lee in the sport. RIP.”
One wrote: “Mr. Elder was a fine man. I remember talking with him in the early ’80s at Firestone during practice rounds for the World Series of Golf tournament. He took the time to talk with a wide-eyed kid who loved the game. Rest in Peace Mr. Elder.”