Now, at 73 years old, with a long PGA Tour career and 12 Champions Tour wins under his belt, Dent said he’s climbing to the peak.
On Tuesday, Dent joined about 75 other notable Augustans when he was inducted into the Local Legends wing at the Augusta Museum of History. The exhibition showcases memorabilia of actors, athletes, writers and other accomplished individuals born in the Garden City who went on to impact the world.
“You never even dream of things like this,” Dent said. “It’s a huge honor.”
In a ceremony with more than a dozen supporters, Dent revealed golf shoes and clubs that will be featured in the same wing as the gavel and robe of Judge John H. Ruffin Jr., the desk of Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders and jerseys of sports heros such as NFL player Deon Grant.
Museum Executive Director Nancy Glaser said the Local Legends exhibit is packed to capacity, and the museum hopes to launch a campaign that will raise money to build an additional wing for the showcase.
“We could triple this space easily between the actors, the athletes, the authors – all these people should be represented in some way,” Glaser said.
De Pierce, sales consultant with Mercedes-Benz of Augusta, who approached the museum about inducting Dent in the exhibit, said he hopes to launch that fundraising campaign soon.
“We’re trying to expose more people from the CSRA that have gone on and done great things,” Pierce said.
Dent is already an inductee in the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Childhood friend Jariah Beard, 72, said this local recognition is powerful because of the role Dent had in paving the way for black golfers in the sport.
Growing up on the Hill in Augusta, Dent began caddying at the Augusta Country Club as a teenager, getting paid $2 for 18 holes.
“Lunch was 20 cents at school, so back then, that was a lot of money,” said Dent, who traveled from his home in Tampa, Fla., for the event.
He later caddied at Augusta National Golf Club, working for Bob Rusburg and Bob Goalby at the Masters Tournament.
Dent played in 403 PGA Tour events, never winning a tournament, but Beard said he became known for shaking prejudices still gripping the sport. After turning 50 in 1989 and joining the Champions Tour, Dent found major success, winning 12 times and earning nearly $9 million.
“He’s a pathfinder,” said District 1 Commissioner William Fennoy. “Mr. Dent is a living legend here in Augusta. He’s a living example of what good work ethic can do to a person.”