History February 06, 2020 at 12:30 pm

A look at Tiger Woods’ first caddie, Tommy Burnbiscuit

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

Michael Eli Dokosi February 06, 2020 at 12:30 pm

February 06, 2020 at 12:30 pm | History

Tommy Burnbiscuit via unstrippedvoice.com

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.

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Woods via Time

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.

Arnold Palmer, center, and Ben Hogan, right, at Augusta, where black caddies were once required.
Arnold Palmer, center, and Ben Hogan, right, at Augusta, where black caddies were once required.Credit…Augusta National/Getty Images

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.

Black Caddies via unstrippedvoice.com

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.

Elder with Woods via unstrippedvoice.com

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.

Lee Elder with Woods via unstrippedvoice.com

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.

Augusta Course via unstrippedvoice.com

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