Return To Glory

It's a day after one of the biggest moments in sports history and the global golf community is still buzzing with excitement. Tiger Woods has won his fifth green jacket and this 15th major. But lost in all the hysteria and endless story lines is a narrative that doesn't get much talk. In fact, it's almost completely swept under the rug. 

The Augusta National of today is drastically different than the Augusta National of just a few decades ago. You don't have to go very far back in time to see examples of this. The most recent example is the club's stance on women - members and golfers alike. I can vividly recall equal rights groups picketing and protesting outside the club's gates several years in a row during tournament week trying to create awareness and prompt change. They wanted the club to allow women beyond the gates, to usher in 21st century thinking into a place that very much was founded on 20th century teachings and ideals. Whether you believe these groups truly did influence the club or not, it doesn't matter. As we've seen these past two weeks Augusta has gotten it right and IMO is now attempting to become a leader in revered women's golf. But what I referenced in the opening is possibly a deeper and darker past of Augusta National. One that judges a man by the color of his skin and not by the quality and intention of his actions or deeds.

Cliff Roberts, co-founder of Augusta National and club chairman for 50+ years, once said, (paraphrasing) "As long as I'm here the golfers will be white and the caddies will be black". This quote is just scratching the surface but I think it succinctly describes the climate at Augusta National for some 50+ years, well after the civil rights movement. The club was so blatantly racist that even some of the greatest golfers of all time decided against supporting the club and playing in its yearly invitational. Cue Lee Trevino. A little known fun fact... Augusta wouldn't even let tour players use their own caddies until well into the 70s, changing its rule only after the urging of golfing icons (and tournament champions) such as Nicklaus and Watson. Until then players were assigned one of the club's caddies - all of which were black. There is a great article posted recently on Golf.com's website that details this era at the club (can't find the link now), so I'll spare you the re-tread. In any case, what does this all have to do with Tiger's win yesterday? I'll tell you.

Tiger grew up wanting to win the Masters for several reasons, one primary reason being how the club has treated blacks over the course of its storied history. Tiger has been on video saying equally as much. And I feel strongly that if we are to reflect and say this is one of the biggest moments in all of sports, golf, and the history of the Masters, then it too should be a historic and iconic moment for the black community in America. One that highlights the trials, tribulations, and rise to equality in a place where it's been denied for so long.