written by Olivia Pennybaker
Back when golf was considered a “Gentlemen’s game,” one woman defied all odds to play the sport she loved. Mary Lou Daniel Crocker was born in Louisville, Kentucky on September 17, 1944. She attended DuPont Manual High School and graduated in 1962. That same year she won the USGA Girls Junior Championship, the Women’s Western Amateur Championship, and the 1962 award for Kentucky Female Athlete of the Year. Crocker was the first woman to attend the University of Kentucky on a men’s golf scholarship. In 1965 she won the Kentucky State Amateur title and turned professional in 1966. She competed on the LPGA Tour for 14 years and even won the Marc Equity Classic in 1973. During the racially divided 1960’s, Crocker stood united with her black playing partners, Renee Powell and Althea Gibson, when several tournament sites tried to exclude the black tour players. She believed either everyone would play in the tournament or no one would play at all. After retiring from professional golf, Crocker moved to Texas and dedicated her time to teaching a new generation of girls her favorite game through the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program. She even traveled to Powell’s family course where she helped her friend teach juniors, women, and veterans golf. In 2010 Crocker was inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame for her pursuits on and off the golf course. Crocker passed away in 2016 at age 71 but her dedication to change the face of golf is still felt. She taught women and minorities that their dreams are possible with hard work, perseverance, and passion. She had a big heart, teaching a new kind of golf, one that includes people of any background or any gender.