Golf history: Black history museum in Augusta recognizes African American caddies

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – During Masters week most patrons are here for the tournament, events and the history of the Augusta National. 

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History wants you to take home another part of golf history.

The Augusta National is filled with history. But the museum of black history believes one part is being left out.

During April, the museum is honoring African American caddies. Leon Maben says growing up, the most exciting part of the tournament for him was watching the caddies on tv.
“It wasn’t to see the golfers because all of the golfers were white,” said Maben. “But we knew that the caddies were going to look like us.”

Although local African Americans worked as caddies for 50 years from 1932 to 1983, we don’t see them much anymore because the rules changed. 

Since the 80s’, the golfers are allowed to bring their own caddies. 

“They knew what iron and what putter you need to use,” explained Maben. “They knew the location of different trees and shrubberies; how to hit this shot. The pro golfers depended on them.”

He says some African Americans made their living caddying for the pros during Masters.

“That paid the bills and allowed them to have income until the following year,” said Maben.
The museum board member told NewsChannel 6 reporter, Devin Johnson, he would like to see the black caddies of that era honored in future events like the “Mayor’s Master Reception.”

“When you talk with them, Devin, they feel forgotten and they feel slighted, explained Maben. “They just left with a bad taste in their mouth.”

This is a piece of history the Lucy Craft Laney Museum believes the Garden City should recognize.

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History will host its fourth annual fundraising golf tournament May 18th at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course. 

The tournament is dedicated to the black caddies of the Augusta National Golf Club. Tee times start at 9 AM. 

On May 8th the Laney Museum will feature a panel of professional black caddies, including Jariah Beard and Jim Dent, who will discuss their journey in the sport of golf.

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