Sand Hill is Augusta’s black caddies’ enclave and it was here that Tiger Woods’ first caddie Tommy Burnbiscuit was based along with other caddies who served the white golfers.
Tommy with the others have worked all their lives at the rich Augusta Golf Club. Curiously, black people were banned from being members of the club till 1990, only seven years before Woods won.
Burnbiscuit was chosen to caddie for Woods because he knew the course. As a kid he would climb the fence guarding the golf course at night and play on the Augusta greens then sleep.
The golf course divided rich white America and black America.
Interestingly even during the Klan lynchings of the Deep South, Blacks will climb over fences and play on white only courses. And while they were barred from playing golf, white society’s most prominent business men who played golf had Black caddies.
The only way Black caddies could be players was to create their own culture of underground golf clubs with their own secret tournament – the Negro Open.
Burnbiscuit was part of this history. Before Tiger Woods, he caddied for Tiger’s hero Lee Elder, who was the first Black to play in the masters. Robert Lee Elder in 1975 became the first African-American to play in the Masters Tournament, where he missed the cut. Elder was invited to the tournament after he won the 1974 Monsanto Open.
Even he was anxious of being set upon such that he carried on a knife, according to Tommy Burnbiscuit. Leading up to the tournament, Elder received substantial amounts of hate mail.