Nashville, TN (TN Tribune)-There is no secret that golf is a sport with a racist past. It wasn’t until 1961 that nonwhite players were even allowed to play in the PGA. And it took another 14 years for the first Black player to play in the Masters Tournament. That player was Lee Elder in 1975, 28 years after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball. It took a while for the powers that be to get with the program and provide opportunities to Black players.
Elder’s excellence will be celebrated next week as he will be lauded as a pioneering figure, serving as an honorary starter at the Masters. Elder’s legacy, along with most Black golfers, is not often told. Players such as Charlie Sifford, Calvin Peete and Bill Spiller are often lost in history. The PGA finally giving Elder his due is a major step in preserving the legacy of those golfers who helped to break down the color barrier and provide more opportunities to the future of the sport.
Without Elder, there is no Tiger Woods, and without the struggles of those in the past, the dominance of those who came after never see the light of day. The work is not done, as there are still only a handful of Black golfers regularly on the tour. However, with the assistance of current players such as Cameron Champ and NBA star Stephen Curry funding golf teams at historically Black universities and helping build out these programs, maybe that number will continue to grow, and the legacy of players such as Elder will continue. – Parker Owens