17 Things You Didn't Know About Lee Elder

Get to know Lee Elder, the 2021 Masters Honorary Starter who became the first black golfer to play in The Masters

Lee Elder
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Get to know Lee Elder, the 2021 Masters Honorary Starter who became the first black golfer to play in The Masters

17 Things You Didn't Know About Lee Elder

1. He was born in Dallas, Texas and was the youngest of eight siblings

2. Both of his parents died by the time he was 7-years-old

3. His father died in World War II

4. He got into golf because one of his brothers was a caddie. He got a job at the golf club collecting stray balls and became a caddie when he was big enough

5. He started playing on the United Golf Association tour, which was an African-American tour away from the PGA, which didn't allow black golfers to play until 1961

6. He joined the PGA Tour in 1968 after raising enough money for Q-School in 1967

7. Despite playing on the PGA Tour, he still suffered racism. He was penalised during a tournament in Memphis, Tennessee after a spectator took his ball from the fairway, and he had to change in the car park in a Florida tournament as black people were not allowed in the clubhouse

8. He qualified for the 1975 Masters after winning the 1974 Monsanto Open at Pensacola in Florida, his maiden PGA Tour title

9. He went on to win four PGA Tour titles and had eight Senior PGA Tour victories. He also won the 1971 Nigerian Open and 1984 Jamaican Open

10. He was 40 when he made his Masters debut, which was probably too old for him to mount a challenge for victory. He missed the cut although he did manage a T17 and T19 in six Masters appearances

11. Whilst the fanfare for him was very positive, he did receive death threats leading up to The Masters and he rented two houses in Augusta during the week to share his time between for safety

12. He was on-site to watch Tiger Woods' 1997 Masters victory, where Woods became the first black golfer to win the tournament. "Lee Elder meant a lot to me because he was the first. He was the one that I looked up to and because of what he did, I was able to play and to live my dream," Woods said."

Lee Elder and Tiger Woods at the 2000 Masters

14. His best Major finishes were T11s at the 1974 PGA Championship and 1979 US Open

15. His PGA Tour earnings were $1,020,415

16. He joins Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an Honorary Starter for the 2021 Masters

17. Upon announcing Elder as an Honorary Starter, Augusta National announced the creation of the Lee Elder Scholarships at Paine College, a Historically Black College and University located in Augusta. Two scholarships will be awarded annually, one each to a student athlete who competes on the men’s and women’s golf team. As part of this effort, Augusta National also will fund the creation of a women’s golf program at Paine

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV