Lee Elder, who in 1975 became the first black man to compete in the Masters Tournament, is being honored by August National with scholarships in his name. In addition, the golf club has invited him to be an Honorary Starter alongside Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus for the 2021 Masters, which begins Thursday. The announcement was made by Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley at Paine College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in Augusta, Ga.
“The opportunity to earn an invitation to the Masters and stand at that first tee was my dream, and to have it come true in 1975 remains one of the greatest highlights of my career and life,” Elder said. “It also gives me great pride to know that my first Masters appearance continues to make a positive impact on others. Throughout my career, helping young men and women achieve their dreams through education has been a cause close to my heart. I am deeply honored to share a connection with Paine College and these scholarships, which will provide life-changing opportunities for the deserving recipients.”
Two scholarships will be awarded each year, one to a student athlete on the men’s golf team and the other to one on the women’s team— the creation of which will be funded by Augusta National.
“Augusta National Golf Club has been a supporter of Paine College for many years, and we are excited to build an even closer relationship through the game of golf,” . “The endowed Lee Elder Scholarships and creation of a women’s golf program are now a permanent example of the Club’s investment in our institution and will open doors for our students for years to come. We appreciate receiving this support and recognition and look forward to working with Augusta National on initiatives that will positively impact everyone affiliated with Paine College.”
The move to fund a women’s program at an HBCU is significant for Augusta National, given that the club did not admit women members until 2012, when former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and South Carolina investor Darla Moore joined. While Elder broke the color barrier for the club’s signature tournament in 1975, Augusta National admitted its first Black member in 1990.
Following the Masters, Steph Curry and Phil Mickelson will square off Nov. 27 against Charles Barkley and Peyton Manning in Turner Sports’ The Match 3, which will also raise funds to benefit HBCUs.