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Lee Elder’s honors shine spotlight on quest for more Black representation in golf


AUGUSTA, Ga. — Lee Elder was a pioneer in integrating golf.

Yet, 46 years after he broke the colour barrier at golf’s largest stage, these in the sport say there’s nonetheless more work to be carried out at rising and diversifying golf.

“I think there’s still a lot of work; a lot of work to do. I just think people need to come together and realize where we are, where the game is and where it’s going,” stated Cameron Champ, a 25-year-old biracial participant on the PGA Tour. “Obviously, COVID has brought a new light to the game, but in order for it to grow and in order to see more minorities and people of color out here, something has to change.”

In current months, Dr. Lee Elder, who acquired an honorary doctorate from Paine College on Tuesday, has once more resurfaced as one a distinguished determine in diversifying the sport of golf.

It made excellent sense for him to affix Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – who helped Elder first break the colour barrier on the South African PGA Championship – as honorary starters for the eighty fifth Masters Tournament.

“Tomorrow morning we also will reflect on the moment at Augusta National in 1975 when Lee Elder bravely broke barriers as his name was announced on the first tee,” stated Fred Ridley, Masters chairman at his information convention on Wednesday. The ceremony is ready for 7:45 a.m. ET.

Photos: Lee Elder at the Masters | Cameron Champ at the Masters

Champ, who might be enjoying in his second straight Masters, stated it’s huge for Elder to be the image for Black success on the course.

“For us, that’s the people who I look up to,” Champ stated. “I know who my grandfather did. So, it definitely means a lot, again, to kind of learn from him and kind of take — kind of pick things out and just kind of pick his brain.”

Elder was the primary Black man to play in the South African PGA Championship throughout apartheid in 1971. Elder then turned the primary Black golfer to play in the Masters in 1975.

After Augusta National Golf Club introduced in November that it might be endowing two scholarships in Elder’s title at Paine and could be contributing to start out a ladies’s golf program, Champ stated he was impressed to help Prairie View A&M, a traditionally black college simply exterior Houston.

With the efforts of Champ and Augusta National in addition to basketball famous person Stephen Curry aiding with Howard’s golf program, there’s been a visual enhance in help for alternatives in golf the for individuals of shade.

“We’re doing just a little bit of what we can do with our resources and the people we know, but with the Tour and, like I said, Augusta doing a lot of things and many other organizations, it’s going to take a whole community to be able to bring it back up to where I think it needs to be and where a lot of people probably think it needs to be,” Champ stated.

Elder added that it takes company help as nicely.

“The young Black people that are trying to get to those heights, they don’t have it right now because they don’t have the financial backing that will help them get to that height,” Elder stated. “So, I hope that more of the corporate world will look at them and take the step to make sure that they will help them get to that point because that’s what we need.”

Since Elder, there have been 5 Black gamers to play in the Masters.

In 1997, Tiger Woods turned the primary Black golfer to win the Masters. He went on to win 4 more inexperienced jackets, most not too long ago in 2019. Elder was in attendance for Woods’ first one.

Golf has come a great distance since 1975. With all of the milestones set and boundaries crossed by Elder, he’s the right instance for a change in a predominantly white sport.

Following the win in 1997, Earl Woods stated that Woods’ win would “open up a lot of doors.” Since Woods’ historic victory, Champ is the one Black golfer to win on the PGA Tour and seem in the Masters.

BMW Championship

BMW Championship

Cameron Champ on the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club. (Photo: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

And there’s nonetheless progress that have to be made.

“Obviously, I like it because it’s who I am, but it’s just like, I have to do that,” Champ stated of being a voice on the PGA Tour. “Again, it’s a subject, again, that hasn’t been brought up since everything’s happened. It just kind of gets pushed to the back burner like it does always.

“Just trying to keep it going and trying to create more foundation around it to get it going and get it building because, like I said … social injustice or equality or race — it’s only talked about when bad incidents happen, which is kind of unfortunate. You know, like I said, just got to keep pushing.”

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