Carol Mann: LPGA Golfer Was Big Winner

LPGA golfer Carol Mann pictured in 1970
Carol Mann was one of the giants of the LPGA Tour in the 1960s. Her playing career stretched into the 1980s, but she was also influential as an LPGA president and, for years after her retirement from tournament golf, as someone involved in women's sports on the administrative side. But it is as a golfer on the LPGA were Mann made her name, racking up win totals that still rank highly in the history of women's golf.

Full name: Carol Ann Mann

Date of birth: February 3, 1941

Place of birth: Buffalo, New York

Date and place of death: May 20, 2018 in The Woodlands, Texas

Her Major Championships and Total Wins

Carol Mann won a total of 38 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, first in 1964 and last in 1975. All of those tournament wins are listed at the bottom of this article. Two of those wins were in major championships: the 1964 Women's Western Open and, the biggest win of her career, the 1965 U.S. Women's Open.

At the 1964 Women's Western Open, Mann opened with an 83. But then she shot three rounds of 76 and lower (something no other golfer in the field did) for a total of 308. She began the final round two behind third-round leader Clifford Ann Creed and tied with Kathy Whitworth. But both Creed and Whitworth scored 79 in the final round while Mann produced a 74. She won by two strokes over runners-up Ruth Jessen and Judy Kimball.

At the 1965 U.S. Women's Open, Mann once again opened with a high score, 78. But then she shot 70 and 70 to take a 4-stroke lead after the third round. One problem: She had a bad cold that wasn't getting better.

Mann went into that final round with the lead but without much sleep, and light-headed from the cold and the codeine-based cold medicine she was using. Still, she clung to a one-stroke lead when she reached the 16th hole.

Her drive on the Atlantic City Country Club par-4 crossed over a water-filled ditch and landing on the opposite bank. But Mann recovered to get the ball into play, then made a 20-foot par putt to keep her lead.

The boosted not just her chances, but the way she felt physically. Mann closed with a birdie and won by two over runner-up Kathy Cornelius.

In her title defense at the 1966 U.S. Women's Open, Mann finished runner-up, one stroke behind winner Sandra Spuzich. She had two other second-place finishes in majors. At the 1969 LPGA Championship, Mann was co-leader after third round but shot 78 and finished four behind Betsy Rawls. At the 1974 U.S. Women's Open, she tied for second one shot behind Sandra Haynie.

In the eight years from 1962-69, Mann finished in the Top 6 of the LPGA Championship five times. In addition to the second already mention, she was solo third in 1965, solo fourth in 1967 and tied fourth in 1962.

Mann also tied for third place in the 1968 U.S. Women's Open, and had additional USWO Top 10s in 1970 and 1972. Her last Top 10 finish in a major was fifth place in the 1975 LPGA Championship. Mann played in 41 majors total and 17 times finished in the Top 10.

More About Carol Mann

At 6-foot-3, Carol Mann was very tall for the LPGA Tour in the 1960s, and she remains one of the tallest women ever to excel at professional golf.

When she was young, Mann was extremely self-conscious about her height. But as she aged, she embraced being tall, later saying, "I like the attention, I guess I'm sort of a ham." She often joked that she wasn't 6-3, but 5-foot-15.

Mann was born in Buffalo, New York, but spent her earliest years in Baltimore, Maryland. It was there she first began golfing at age 9. When she was 13, her family moved to Chicago and joined Olympia Fields Country Club. That was when, and where, Carol got serious about golf.

In 1958, Mann won the Western Junior and Chicago Junior titles. In 1960, she won the Chicago Women's Amateur Championship. Mann had been on a scholarship playing college golf at Women's College of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina-Greensboro), but decided after two years to go pro.

The key factor in the decision was securing a sponsor who gave her an income of $600 per month for 18 months. She turned pro in October 1960 and joined the LPGA Tour in 1961.

Mann had no Top 10 finishes her first year on tour, then a best finish of tied fourth in 1962 and fifth in 1963. She finished in the Top 20 on the LPGA money list for the first time in 1963.

Then, in 1964, she made her first LPGA win a major championship at the Women's Western Open. The next year, her third win on tour was her other major, the 1965 U.S. Women's Open.

Mann was off and running, and for the rest of the 1960s the only player on the LPGA Tour who topped her in overall results was Kathy Whitworth. Mann won four times in 1966 and three more times in 1967.

Then came her glory years of 1968-69. In 1968, Mann tied Whitworth for the LPGA lead with 10 wins (the entire rest of the LPGA Tour won a combined 12 times) and finished second to Whitworth on the money list. Mann set an LPGA record that year (long since broken) with 23 rounds in the 60s. At the 1968 Lady Carling Open (Atlanta), Mann's 36-hole score was 132 and winning 54-hole score 200, which, at the time, were both LPGA records.

Mann won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average in 1968 with a mark of 72.04, the lowest in LPGA history to that point. Nobody had a lower scoring average until Nancy Lopez beat Mann's mark in 1978.

In 1969, Mann added another eight wins and, this time, she edged out Whitworth for the money-list title. So 18 of her 38 career wins came in those two years.

In 1970, Mann won once and, in 1971, not at all. She had seven multi-win seasons over her career, includuing in 1972 and 1975.

Mann's last winning year was 1975, and it was a very good year. She claimed four wins that season. One of those was the Borden Classic, where she became the first LPGA golfer to record birdies on seven consecutive birdies, and just the second to score 29 over nine holes.

But she never won again after that year. The 1975 Dallas Civitan Open was her last victory. What happened?

She said later that part of it was burnout. Mann also simply had divided her attention between playing golf and administrative tasks. From late 1973 through mid-1976, Mann served as the LPGA Tour's president. And she helped make major improvements in the tour's marketing, growth and its relationships with corporate America. And she helped increase tour purses.

Mann continued playing during that time, and through the 1981 season. But there were no wins. At the end of 1981, she quit the tour life at the age of 40.

Her 38 career wins ranked No. 7 all-time at the time of her retirement, and, more than 40 years later still ranked No. 11. She had 201 career Top 10 finishes. On the LPGA money list, Mann finished third, fourth, third, second and first, respectively, from 1965-69. Then she was 15th and 17th before getting back in the Top 10 from 1973-75, ranking, respectively, eighth, fifth, seventh and third in those years.

As her LPGA career wound down, Mann did some television work, providing analysis on both men's and women's tournaments for several American networks. After her retirement from tournament golf, she worked for many years as a golf instructor out of Woodlands Country Club near Houston.

Mann remained active in administrative roles in women's sports, serving as a trustee of the Women's Sports Foundation for many years beginning in 1979, and as that organization's president from 1985-90.

She also began a golf course design and management firm. Carol Mann Golf Services has been called the first such company owned and operated by a woman.

Mann authored a couple books: The 19th Hole: Favorite Golf Stories (affiliate links here and following), published in 1992; and Wilson Guide to Women's Golf (1994). She wrote the forward to Understanding the Golf Swing by famed golf instructor Manuel de la Torre, who was Mann's teacher throughout her career; also wrote the forward to Patty Berg's 1977 book Inside Golf for Women.

She was 77 years old when she died in 2018.

In 2008, she received the First Lady of Golf Award from the PGA of America, one of many such honors Mann was given over her career. She is a member of many halls of fame, starting with the LPGA Hall of Fame and World Golf Hall of Fame. She joined both in 1977, when her induction at the same time as Sandra Haynie brought membership in the LPGA Hall of Fame up to just nine golfers.

Mann is also a member of the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1982), Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame (1992), Texas Golf Hall of Fame (2010), Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame (2012), Illinois Golf Hall of Fame and UNC-Greensboro Sports Hall of Fame.

Mann's 38 LPGA Tour Wins

Photo credit: Dave Didio (Miami Herald), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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