Honorary starter Lee Elder is applauded by Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus on the first tee at the 2021 Masters. Photo: Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images
Two Thursdays, 46 years apart, did not entirely define Lee Elder but they served as appropriate bookends to a life and a career that was built around golf but reached far beyond the game.
Elder, the first Black man to play in the Masters, died Sunday. He was 87 years old.
Long before he stepped to Augusta National’s first tee on Thursday, April 10, 1975, breaking the color barrier at the Masters, Elder had proven himself as a golfer. But his success, the tournament’s history and a changing society made Elder – 40 years old at the time – an enormous figure in the evolution of professional golf in the United States.
Last April, 46 years later, Elder sat in a golf cart on that same first tee, an oxygen tank nearby, joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an honorary starter for the Masters.
It was a moment of immense significance, an acknowledgement of what Elder meant not just t...
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