Lee Elder broke a golf color barrier

U. S. Army Veteran Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play at the Masters, has died. Elder served at Fort Lewis in the State of Washington from 1959 to 1961.

His commanding officer Col. John Gleaster took an interest in Elder and changed his assignment to a Special Services Unit. Elder honed his golf skills while in Special Services in the Army and after receiving his Honorable Discharge decided to make golf his profession.

This was an amazing step as Elder had not started playing golf until he was 16. He was good enough to play golf with Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Joe Louis. It was Ted Rhodes who helped Lee Elder develop into a very good golfer.

He made almost $36,000 in winnings to place him in the top 40 of all golfers on tour. He even had a playoff with Jack Nicholas in one tournament and was bested on the fifth play-off hole.

Elder retired from golf in 2005. He had a successful career winning 19 tournaments on tour. Elder broke the color barrier at Augusta National as the first black to play in the Masters Tournament in 1974. In 1979 Elder became the first black to play on the Ryder Cup team.

Elder blazed a trail for inclusion, diversity, and was a patriotic American. Having served with the United States Army, Lee Elder is eligible to receive full military honors should it be requested by his family. Interment at any National Cemetery is free of charge for Veterans of the United States Armed Forces. May he rest in peace.

Image Sources

  • Lee Elder: Facebook