Lee Elder is first African American to receive USGA’s highest honor

Lee Elder, the first African American to play in the Masters, will receive the USGA’s highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, at Pebble Beach.

Elder is the first African-American recipient of the award, which will be presented June 12 during the week of the 119th U.S. Open. The Bob Jones Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones.

“It’s a great honor to receive this award and be recognized in the same vein as Mr. Jones, who did so much for golf, and many others that I’ve admired who have positively impacted the game,” Elder said in a statement.

“I felt that by setting the right example and serving as a mentor, I would have the ability to leave a lasting impression on people. Even if I could only reach a few of them, I wanted to give all youngsters a chance to learn the game and be a part of it.”

Elder managed the desegregated Langston Golf Course in Washington, D.C., where he hosted after-school programs teaching young people about the game. He also established a scholarship fund to benefit low-income youth.

He qualified for the PGA Tour in 1967 after establishing himself on the United Golf Association circuit, which hosted competitions for African-American players.

He played in six Masters from 1975 to ’81, with a tie for 17th in 1979 his best finish. He won four times on the PGA Tour.

Past winners of the Bob Jones Award inlude Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Annika Sorenstam, Payne Stewart, President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Nicklaus.



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