With golf's attention turned to Augusta, Ga. this weekend for The Masters, Warriors star Steph Curry is wearing shoes to honor one of the sport's pioneers.
Curry's custom sneakers commemorated Lee Elder, who, in 1975, became the first Black golfer to play in The Masters. The two-time NBA MVP donned the kicks, featuring Elder's advice to "Stay the course," in warmups ahead of Golden State's home game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
The Masters arguably is the crown jewel of the PGA Tour's four major championships, but the Augusta National-hosted tournament had, historically, been exclusionary beyond its rigorous qualification procedures. Elder qualified for the tournament by virtue of winning the 1971 Nigerian Open, but Clifford Roberts, a white man and The Masters Chairman, refused to invite Elder.
Roberts ensured that Augusta National only admitted white men as members. The club didn't have a Black member until 1990, 13 years after Roberts' death. Augusta National didn't admit a woman as a member until 2012.
“As long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be Black,” Roberts once said of Augusta National.
Elder ultimately kicked down the door in 1975, qualifying after winning the 1974 Monsanto Open. He missed the cut that year, but Elder managed top-20 finishes in 1977 and '79.
This year, 46 years after Elder's milestone appearance at the tournament, The Masters finally honored Elder's efforts. Alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Elder opened the tournament as an honorary starter. Curry paid tribute to Elder's overdue recognition in a video message Thursday.
"I wanted to say thank you so much for your life's work," Curry said in the video, "for your legacy, your inspiration and blazing a path and overcoming so many obstacles to open up the game of golf for those who deserve to play and for the underrepresented."
Beyond the shoes, Curry continues to honor Elder's legacy. He funded the golf program at Howard University, a historically Black school, covering costs for six years beginning in 2019.