Augusta National will have a new face joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to hit the ceremonial first tee shots at the 2021 Masters. Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley announced in a press conference on Monday that Lee Elder, the first Black man to compete in the Masters, would join the two legends as an honorary starter next spring.
“Mr. Elder’s participation in the Honorary Starters Ceremony next April will recognize his courageous life and commemorate all he has done in his career to help eliminate barriers and inspire Black men and women in the game of golf and beyond,” Ridley said in a press release. “We hope that by having him serve as an Honorary Starter for the 2021 Masters that he can be joined at the first tee by family, friends and patrons for a moment that will be treasured worldwide.”
Elder will be the 10th honorary starter in Masters history. He first played in the Masters in 1975, breaking the color barrier at the most famous tournament in golf. He missed the cut that year, but he competed in five more Masters during his career, finishing a career-best T19 in 1977.
“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. “So to be invited back to the first tee one more time to join Jack and Gary for next year’s Masters means the world to me.”
In addition to honorary starter duties, Ridley also announced the creation of two golf scholarships in Elder’s name at Paine College, a Historically Black College and University located in Augusta. Augusta National will also fund the creation of a women’s golf program at Paine College to “help foster opportunities for Black men and women alike as they pursue their dreams on and off the course.”
“It gives me great pride to know that my first Masters appearance continues to make a positive impact on others,” Elder said. “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.”