Lee Elder first made an impact on Augusta on April 21, 1974, when he earned an automatic invitation to the 1975 Masters Tournament.
Forty years later, the first black man to compete at Augusta National Golf Club is continuing his efforts to bring change to Richmond County.
On Tuesday, Elder made an appearance at Furniture Outlet on Bobby Jones Expressway to help raise campaign funds for mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams.
“About a month ago, Mr. Elder was told I was running for mayor, and he immediately volunteered to help in any way possible,” Blocker-Adams said. “It’s hard to describe how much it means to have the support of such a legendary man.”
Blocker-Adams is one of five candidates – all of whom are black – running for mayor of Augusta. The others are Charles Cummings, Hardie Davis Jr., Alvin Mason and Lori Myles. The election is May 20.
Elder says the election is significant.
“To know Augusta’s going to have an African-American mayor says a lot about how far we’ve come,” he said. “Things have changed since I first played here in 1975.”
If anyone knows about change, it’s Elder. The PGA Tour had a whites-only clause as late as 1961, forcing Elder to spend multiple years on the black professional tour.
After saving enough money, he
officially joined the PGA Tour in 1967.
Blocker-Adams says she’s thankful to have the 79-year-old in her corner.
“We met five years ago during an event at Paine College, but we’ve really gotten to know each other these past two years,” Blocker-Adams said of Elder.
“I can’t express how appreciative I am of him and his wife, Sharon.
“It’s truly incredible to have Lee Elder endorse little ole me. He’s
such an icon – such a tremendous person.”
When asked what makes Blocker-Adams worthy of being elected mayor, Elder’s answer is simple.
“Consistency,” he said. “You always know what you’re getting from Helen. She never wavers in her beliefs and I honestly believe it’s time for Augusta to embrace her as mayor. She’s one of the hardest working, most loyal people I know.”
In addition to Elder, Blocker-Adams is also endorsed by former presidential candidate Herman Cain.
The 2015 Masters will mark the 40th anniversary of Elder’s groundbreaking play at Augusta National.
Blocker-Adams says she would also like to make history in Augusta.
“Mr. Elder made history as the first African-American to play the Masters and I’m trying to make history as the first female mayor of Augusta-Richmond County,” she said. “It’s very humbling to think about.”