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

Lee Elder was a pioneer in integrating golf.

Yet, 46 years after he broke the colour barrier at golf’s greatest stage, these in the sport say there’s nonetheless more work to be executed 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,” mentioned 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 obtained 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 good 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.

Lee Elder at the 1975 Masters.

Lee Elder on the 1975 Masters.

“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,” mentioned Fred Ridley, Masters chairman at his press convention Wednesday. The ceremony is about for 7:45 a.m.

Champ, who might be taking part in in his second straight Masters, mentioned it’s massive for Elder to be the image for African-American success on the course.

“For us, that’s the people who I look up to,” Champ mentioned. “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.”

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Elder was the primary African-American 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 will be endowing two scholarships in Elder’s identify at Paine and could be contributing to begin a girls’s golf program, Champ mentioned he was impressed to help Prairie View A&M, a traditionally black college simply exterior Houston.

With the efforts of Champ and Augusta Nationa in addition to basketball famous person Stephen Curry helping with Howard’s golf program, there’s been a visual improve in help for alternatives in golf the for folks of coloration.

“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 mentioned.

"In order for it to grow and in order to see more minorities and people of color out here, something has to change," said biracial golfer Cameron Champ.

“In order for it to grow and in order to see more minorities and people of color out here, something has to change,” mentioned biracial golfer Cameron Champ.

Elder added that it takes company help as properly.

“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 mentioned. “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 just lately in 2019. Elder was in attendance for Woods’ first one.

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

Following the win in 1997, Earl Woods mentioned 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.

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 mentioned 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.”

This article initially appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Masters 2021: Lee Elder, Cameron Champ spotlight Black golf struggle

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