A hall of fame career usually begins modestly, and Cathy Mant’s began on the 9-hole Laurelwood Golf Course in Eugene, Ore.
“I’d follow around with my Dad,” she says. “Walking along, taking a whack at the ball once in a while. I loved being outside.”
Her parents became members at Eugene Country Club, and Cathy’s interest in the game grew. “I was a tomboy,” she recalls. “There wasn’t much else to do, so I played golf.” She began playing in the club’s junior events, and the first tournament she won was a 4-hole event. “I shot 36,” she says with a laugh. “I still have that trophy, and am very proud of it.”
Cathy’s father would take her out on the course in the evenings after he came home from work. A natural athlete, Cathy loved hitting balls on the driving range. “I could hit the ball a long way, and the game really started to get fun for me.”
She played on the boys’ golf team at St. Francis High School, and began entering junior events outside of Eugene. “One of the earliest memories I have of those tournaments was driving up to Oswego Lake Country Club with a bunch of friends and staying at someone’s home,” says Cathy. “We just had so much fun.”
It was during her junior years at Eugene Country Club that Cathy’s game began to blossom. “I was fortunate to have had really great people as my instructors,” she says. Her first instructor was Wendell Wood, the longtime PGA professional at Eugene who is now in the PGA Section’s Hall of Fame. And she credits John Zoller Sr., the superintendent at Eugene at the time, for really getting her game going. “He had played on the golf team at Ohio State and was a great player,” she recalls. “He knew what it took to compete against other good players, and he helped me believe in my game.”
It was then that her game took on a life of its own. From 1966 until 1970, there was no better amateur golfer in the region than Cathy Mant. She won the Southern Oregon Junior Amateur, Oregon Junior Girls’ Amateur, the 1968 PNGA Women’s Amateur, the Oregon Women’s Amateur three times, the Southern Oregon Women’s Amateur twice, and the Oregon Coast Amateur. She also qualified for two U.S. Girls’ Juniors, three U.S. Women’s Amateurs, the Women’s Western Amateur, the Women’s Broadmoor Invitational, and finished runner-up in the 1967 PNGA Junior Girls’ Amateur.
And it continued when she went off to college. Attending Arizona State University, she won the 1970 NCAA Women’s Individual national title, was named a first-team All-American, and won six individual collegiate titles.
After college she left the game for a couple years, but she still had the competitive drive, and at age 26 she qualified for the LPGA Tour.
Cathy played on the LPGA Tour from 1976 to 1986. One of her mentors on tour was PNGA Hall of Famer JoAnne Carner. “JoAnne and her husband took me under their wing,” Cathy says. “She taught me so much about the game, and really about life itself.”
Cathy played in 10 U.S. Women’s Opens, as well as each major on the tour. She became very involved in the LPGA player government, serving as a player representative to the LPGA Board of Directors, and was the president of the LPGA Tournament Division in 1985.
When she finished her LPGA career, Cathy devoted her time and energy to a full-time teaching career. She is a Class A member of both the LPGA Tour, the Teaching and Club Professional Division. In 2002, Cathy was named one of Golf for Women’s “Top 50 Teachers.”
She says that even during her years on the tour, she was giving lessons in the off-season. “Kids and I just seemed to gravitate toward each other,” she says.
After her tour days, she was working as a golf instructor at Eagle’s Landing Country Club in Stockbridge, Georgia, where her husband, Rick, was serving as the club’s general manager. “I was approached by Georgia State about helping with their women’s golf team,” she recalls. “I didn’t think much of it at the time, but thought I’d see what it was about.”
Cathy has been the head women’s golf coach at Georgia State University since 2000, and has been named her conference’s Coach of the Year six times. She is the winningest coach in Georgia State history. In 2015, she was selected to coach the U.S. Girls’ Team for the Junior Golf World Cup, held that year in Japan.
Cathy served on the U.S. Girls’ Junior Committee for 25 years, receiving the USGA Ike Grainger Award in 2014, which recognizes outstanding volunteer service to the game.
She is a member of the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame, and also the Players Hall of Fame of the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.
Looking for an example of giving back to the game? Look no further than Cathy Mant.