The Man Who Defied Death Threats to Play at the Masters

Lee Elder (AP Photo)
Lee Elder (AP Photo)

(BBC) – Forty years ago, Lee Elder became the first black golfer to play in the US Masters – but when he qualified for the tournament, he received death threats and wondered whether taking part might cost him his life.

The crowds gathered at the opening hole of the Masters in 1975 were used to watching a black man stride on to the first tee. But Lee Elder was not there to carry the clubs of a white competitor – he was there to play.

It was one of the last color barriers in US sport.

“When I arrived at the front gate and drove down Magnolia Lane that’s when the shakes began. It was so nerve wracking. I said a prayer and asked for help to get me through the day,” says Elder.

That short walk on to the first tee was a ground-breaking moment but all he could think about was not fumbling his first shot.


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