Lee Elder, first Black golfer to play the Masters, awarded honorary doctorate in Augusta

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Lee Elder became the first African-American to ever play in the Masters when he competed in the 1975 tournament.

Now 46 years later, the history-making golfer is honored and celebrated with events throughout Augusta.

On Tuesday night, the 86-year-old rolled up in style to Paine College to receive an honorary doctorate for lifetime achievement.

Augusta National is helping fund the men’s golf team and create a women’s golf program at Paine. Two Lee Elder scholarships will go to a player on each team.

“Thank you so very much. My family and I have sure enjoyed our time that we’ve been here. but we’ll be here for quite a few more days. I know we’ll get a chance to see each and every one of you and I just want to say thank you so very much,” Elder said at the ceremony.


Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis also announced April 6 is now Lee Elder Day.

Elder’s agenda is full all week while he is in Augusta. During the Masters’ first round Thursday, Elder will have the ceremonial tee shot for the 2021 Masters Tournament with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

“That is one thing that’s going to be significant to me, because 1975 was just an ordinary shot playing a golf tournament, even though it was the Masters,” Elder said in November when he was awarded the shot. “It’s not as significant as this shot will be come April 8, 2021. Because my heart and soul will be into this shot.”

Channel 2′s ABC affiliate WJBF in Augusta contributed to this article.

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