Golf pioneer Lee Elder remembered

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FILE – Lee Elder poses for a picture on the first tee at the Masters golf tournament Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. Elder broke down racial barriers as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters and paved the way for Tiger Woods and others to follow. The PGA Tour confirmed Elder’s death, which was first reported by Debert Cook of African American Golfers Digest. No cause or details were immediately available, but the tour said it spoke with Elder’s family. He was 87. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – For millions in the golf world no one stood taller than Lee Elder.  

“Great golfer, great ambassador to the game of golf…did a lot for kids, did a lot for the others coming up,” said James Dent, the Pro at Augusta Municipal Golf Course.  

In 1975, Lee Elder broke the color barrier at the Masters tournament. 

In April he joined Champions Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the ceremonial opening tee shots. 

 James Dent is the son of golfer Jim Dent and Lee Elder was like part of the family. 

“He was a little ahead of my dad, you know he was the man on a lot of the Negro National Tours. Great player, great guy, known him since I can’t remember. He’s always been Uncle Lee, that’s a great loss to the game of golf,” said Dent. 

Elder was a pioneer and trail blazer in golf. Because of his race he faced heckling, and death threats while playing, but he said that wasn’t the case during the Masters. 

“Every tee, and every green that I walked up, I got tremendous ovations,” said Elder, at the Masters in April of 2021 

And there were tremendous ovations at Paine College in April where Elder was bestowed an honorary doctorate degree and two golf scholarships were endowed in his name, it was quite the week for Doctor Elder.  

“The whole thing was very well done. It was perfect timing, good recognition for him and all his accomplishments. Stuff like that, it was good to see,” said Dent.  

Those accomplishments had Elder being honored at Augusta National this past April. 

“I certainly hope, the things that I have done have inspired a lot of young black players and they will continue on with it,” Elder said in April.  

“He was a great asset to the game of golf just overall,” said Dent.   

Mayor Hardie Davis, who proclaimed April 6th this year Lee Elder Day in Augusta, issued a statement,

In part it says, “On behalf of the entire City of Augusta, our profound condolences are extended to the Elder family.”

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