She was literally one of the giants of the game, both on the golf course and for the work she did in the formation of the “modern” Ladies Professional Golf Association. She was a natural leader, winning a U.S. Women’s Open, 38 events and serving as one of the LPGA’s most influential presidents. Yes, she was 6-feet-3, and yes, she was self-conscious about her height, but Carol Mann always seemed quite natural in her surroundings, whether it was taking on Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright, or selling the ladies’ tour to corporate America. There was a time when she was the LPGA’s Mann for all seasons.
In 1968, she won 10 times and the Vare Trophy with a then-record 72.04 scoring average. The next year she won eight times and was the LPGA’s leading money winner. Starting with the Women’s Western Open in 1964 and ending with Lawson’s Open in 1975, she towered over everybody in the competition except Whitworth. And then it all became too much for her. Like Whitworth and Sandra Haynie in the late 1970s, she just burned out. “I had made a tremendous effort, and it still wasn’t satisfying,” Mann told Liz Kahn in her unauthorized history of the LPGA. “I said to my father: ‘Daddy, is this all there is to life? Is this all the accomplishment I can expect? Is this the only kick I’m going to have? Do I have to keep doing this?’ “
"I enjoy being a person, and getting old and dying are fine. I never think how people will remember Carol Mann. The mark I made is an intimate satisfaction."
He replied, “No, baby, this isn’t all there is.”
She read Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking and did self-hypnosis with Bob Hagge. Unlike Whitworth and Haynie, Mann could never resurrect her playing career, in part because she was too busy helping shape and run the ladies’ tour.
Mann was the LPGA’s president from September 1973 to May 31, 1976. It was during this time that the LPGA hired marketing genius Ray Volpe as its commissioner. Playing competitive golf had become secondary. “I could barely get to the course in time to tee off; there was so much other activity,” she remembers. “By June 1976, I went down the tubes. I was depressed thinking that no one on tour would say thank you to me for what I had done. Some would, others never would, and 10 years later, players wouldn’t give a damn.”
Mann was appreciated; she received the Babe Zaharias Award in 1976 and was looked upon as one of the “100 Heroes of American Golf.” She was inducted into the LPGA’s Hall of Fame in 1977.
Mann didn’t develop a golf swing until she was 13 years old, after the family moved to Chicago and took a membership at Olympia Fields C.C. Commuting to tournaments on trains, Mann won the Western Junior and the Chicago Junior in 1958, and the Chicago Women’s Amateur in 1960. “I was awkward, shy, without any poise, and I giggled,” Mann said.
Mann overcame her insecurities to enjoy one of the most productive careers in women’s golf history. She retired at age 40 and began to branch out in different directions. The Women’s Sports Foundation made her a trustee and she served as president from 1985-1990. She also formed Carol Mann Golf Services, the first woman-owned and operated course design and management firm. Based in Houston, she started teaching at The Woodlands C.C. and took an active role in facilitating the relationship between the Hall of Fame and its members.
“I’ve walked on the moon,” she has said. “I enjoy being a person, and getting old and dying are fine. I never think how people will remember Carol Mann. The mark I made is an intimate satisfaction.”