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Dale McNamara wanted to play golf, but there was no team at the University of Tulsa, so she entered tournaments on her own and became the first woman to win an athletic letter at TU. In 1974, when Tulsa decided to start a women’s golf team and McNamara volunteered to coach the team. They had no money, no support, and no players.

Dale went on to become one of the most legendary and successful collegiate women’s golf coaches in history. In 26 years, her teams won four national championships and finished as the national runner-up five times. Her teams won 80 tournaments and produced 28 All-Americans. In 1985, in one of the most memorable seasons in college women’s golf history, McNamara coached Tulsa to eight victories in 13 tournaments.

The University of Tulsa became the gold standard for college women’s golf in the 1970s and 1980s.

Full Interview Transcript

Chapter 01 – 0:55 Introduction

Announcer: Dale McNamara wanted to play golf but there was no team at the University of Tulsa, so she entered tournaments on her own and became the first woman to win an athletic letter at TU. In 1974 when Tulsa decided to start a women’s golf team, McNamara volunteered to coach the team. They had no money, no support, and no players. Dale went on to become one of the most legendary and successful collegiate women’s golf coaches in history. In 26 years, her teams won four national championships and finished as the national runner up five times. Her teams won 80 tournaments and produced

28 All-Americans. Listen to Dale talk about how she discovered Nancy Lopez, how she introduced golf to her daughter, Melissa, and about her work on the Tulsa Park Board. Dale McNamara’s story is quite remarkable and can be heard here on the oral history website,

Chapter 02 – 11:50 First Golf Lesson

John Erling: My name is John Erling. Today’s date is February 25, 2021. Dale, would you state your full name, please?

Dale McNamara: My full official name is Margaret Drysdale McNamara, but I am known as Dale McNamara.

JE: So being the good interviewer that I am, I must ask you where does Dale come from?

DM: Dale came from my middle name Margaret Drysdale. Drysdale is a Scottish clan. There were the Westdales in Scotland and the Drysdales who lived in the mountains. That was from my mother’s side, so that’s where Dale came from.

Dale McNamara

Dale built the TU women’s golf program from the ground up and it grew to be the gold standard in the sport.

JE: But even so, why did somebody pick up on Dale and calling you that?

DM: (laughs) I don’t know because I’ve had more fun with the name Dale, as you can imagine, you know join the Boy Scouts. I even got a rush notice for Sigma Chi at TU (laughs). So I’ve had fun with the name…yeah.

JE: I’m sure you have. Alright, your date of birth?

DM: December 14, 1935. JE: And your present age? DM: 85.

JE: I like that! Some ladies, I must tell you…they say, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to tell you my age or not.”

DM: Oh that’s baloney (laughs).

JE: I’m in my office here at in Tulsa. And you are where as we record this?

DM: I am comfortably in my bedroom in my chair with a cup of coffee at my side.

JE: Alright, very good, here in Tulsa. I’m doing these interviews by phone now because of COVID. We’ll just address that a little bit for those who will listen back to this. This pandemic—how has it affected you or your family? Any comments on that?

DM: Yes, I was visiting my youngest daughter and son-in-law in Auburn, Alabama, for Christmas, and January 9, I came down with COVID. Fortunately, my symptom was extreme fatigue, nothing else—no respiratory or anything else. But I was there and being taken care of by my youngest daughter and son-in-law for another two weeks. My son-in- law drove me back to Tulsa and I am recovering very well from it.

JE: Alright, not having any after effects? They talk about tiredness and that kind of stuff.

That’s not…

DM: Oh yeah, I’m still not over it and they say sometimes it takes months. But I am so much better.

JE: Good. Have you had your vaccination yet?

DM: I can’t have that until April because I’ve tested positive and apparently 90 days after that, I am not contagious to anyone, nor can I catch it again. So I’m not to take my vaccine until April.

JE: Well I’m glad you shared that. You share that for the generations who listen back what we have been going through.

DM: I’m lucky and I’m still healthy.

JE: Right, and that you’re alive. I mean…

DM: Right!

JE: …over 500,000 now have died in the past year from it so we think about those people.

Where were you born?

DM: I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

JE: Your mother’s name, where she came from, and a little bit about her?

DM: My mother’s name was Rachel and she is originally from Kansas City. She was just a beautiful, wonderful mother.

JE: So her personality? And then we have to throw in the athletic side because of you. Does any of that come from her, and what kind of person was she?

DM: (laughs) Well, we took our first golf lessons together. Mom tried awful hard but she never really (laugh)…never really caught on to golf, but she loved it. My dad is left-handed. As

I said, they both enjoyed the sport. My dad played the first football game that was ever played at Owen Stadium under Bennie Owen at OU.

JE: Oh!

DM: A member of the letterman’s club…yeah, he was a wonderful football player.

JE: And his name?

DM: Lloyd.

JE: And what was his personality like?

DM: (laughs) My dad was a renascent man. He did everything. He was a most exciting gentleman. He had his gold mines in New Mexico, formed a railroad being built in Panama, Fleming Building Company in Tulsa. He was kind of a godfather of the steel buildings industry right after World War II. He was just a great man. He’s my hero.

JE: Yes. You said you took first golf lessons, so how old were you and how did golf come into play?

DM: Well it was kind of a sad situation. I was about 11-12 and polio was just rampant. We had just joined The Oaks Country Club so we could have a swimming pool because all the pools were closed. Started playing golf and a little friend of mine and I played. I’ll never forget it—we played one day and we shared a Coke out of a cup. Her name was Nancy Hatz. That evening, she caught polio and it was a severe case. Her family just went frantic. She survived, severely crippled. She had a couple of kids. Her mother was Mabel Hatz.

She was the godmother of junior golf for girls in Oklahoma. But I started taking lessons at The Oaks with my mother and my dad. They had family group lessons. I loved it. But I started out left handed because my dad was left handed, you know. I am ambidextrous, but the pro said, “Why don’t you try a right-handed club?” I can’t even hit a ball left- handed anymore (laughs).

JE: You did not contract polio then, even though…

DM: I did not. I thank the dear Lord for that.

JE: Yes, that was a close call because that was very contagious.

DM: I think about this pandemic and I think about polio and think about the little sugar cubes that we took with the vaccine in it and what a miracle that was.

JE: Yes. So then we can say you were introduced to golf at about what age?

DM: I’m thinking around 12, something like that.

JE: Did you take to it right away and say yes I like this?

DM: I loved it. I really did. I loved it. Fortunately, there were some other young people my age that were kind of in a little junior group and one of the girls’ daddy had to go to Chicago on business and there was a junior tournament called The Westin Junior, so he took me and took Susan Casey was her name, and we went to Chicago and played in our first tournament. I thought oh this is great! Of course, they thought the two of us from Oklahoma were just, you know, really something. So we made up stories about living on a ranch (laughs). We had a great time, but that was my introduction to golf and to the competition.

JE: Yeah.

DM: I just loved it.

JE: That’s great.

DM: Besides that’s where all the little boys were too (laughs).

JE: (laughs) Your education—what was the first school you attended in Tulsa?

DM: Eliot.

JE: And junior high school?

DM: Horace Mann. And then I went one year to Central. Then my junior and senior years, I was at Holland Hall. I went from there to Oklahoma University for two years and really missed my golf and came back to Tulsa.


DM: Uh huh…but did not graduate. Launched golf on an absolutely marvelous career of amateur golf.

JE: In high school, weren’t you playing in the Tulsa Junior Girls Golf Program?

DM: Yes I was.

JE: That was created then by Mabel Hatz.

DM: Oh yeah.

JE: Did you know her? Were you around her?

DM: Oh very much so. They were members of The Oaks. Mabel…oh yes. She taught us so much about not only the game but about manners and the dignity of the game. I learned an awful lot from Mabel Hatz and will always be grateful to her.

JE: This junior golf program, it became I see the largest junior golf program in the United States.

DM: I think one of the most exciting things for me is I went on and I became chairman of the tournament one year. It was held at Southern Hills and had over 100 kids in the golf tournament. It was just a fantastic program. It really was. It still is. Junior golf in Oklahoma is just really something else. WOGA has taken on the program. Plus Maggie Kelt, who played golf for me at TU…her name is Maggie Roller now…she is the golf instructor at Cedar Ridge and she has started a great junior tournament called American Junior Golf

Association and one of the tournaments is here every August in Tulsa, which brings junior players from all over the world into play. It’s exciting to sit back at my age and see how this has developed.

JE: And how fortunate you were to be surrounded by that program. You could have been in another community that wouldn’t have had that support. So when you look back, that kind of maybe was the wind beneath your wings that lifted you.

DM: You’re so right. You couldn’t have put it better.

JE: That’s a great story. So then most states now have junior golf programs for girls.

DM: Yes they do. Golf has grown for women quite a bit, particularly with the Title IX giving opportunities in college, you know, for scholarships and so on. This has been really, really something. And to watch the LPGA grow to where it is. I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to play with the originators of the LPGA. As an amateur, there were several tournaments in Oklahoma and in south Texas. I made every one of them. We would go out and mark off the course itself. It was very primitive but it was a tournament. It was the Patty Byrd and Louise Suggs and Mickey Wright. I am just so fortunate again with timing. I thought this was what I wanted to do. Every time I think about those early days and what an experience it was for me.

JE: Yes, and, of course, your talent was playing for you here because you were an amateur playing…

DM: Right…

JE: …which puts you around those people and must have built your confidence as well. You knew you weren’t as good but you were good enough to be a strong amateur player and then to watch them…there’s another marker for you in your journey.

Chapter 03 – 5:00 Patty Berg

Dale McNamara: I traveled to about four tournaments with Patty Berg and I cannot begin to tell you all the things that I learned about golf from Patty Berg. She was fantastic—to listen to her stories, to watch her play. Wow! (laughs)

John Erling: She was the first president, as a matter of fact, of the LPGA.

DM: Was she really? I didn’t realize that. Huh! I learned to poker with Mickey Wright. She was just awesome. (laughs) We had fun evening time.

JE: About the LPGA—and I’m kind of getting ahead of myself here, but that’s okay; we can drift either way—I noticed the total prize money on the LPGA tour was $41 million

in 2010, but then in 2019, a new record was set at $70.5 million, a rise of over

$5 million in one year.

DM: Wow.

JE: So that shows you how strong women’s golf has come over the years.

DM: Yeah because it was pretty tough in those beginning years (laughs). Wow!

JE: But let’s go back to beginning. You came to the University of Tulsa. They did not have a golf team so what did you do? You wanted to play golf and yet you wanted to be at TU. Tell us about that.

DM: There was a tournament called the Dick McGuire in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hosted by the University of New Mexico. It was a mixed tournament—women’s teams, but there was only about three or four in the country then, and then men’s teams. My parents chaperoned myself and a couple of the guys from Tulsa and we played in the tournament, did well, and played a couple of others as an individual with Tulsa. So I got to play a few tournaments and they awarded me with a letter, which I thought was pretty exciting. But still, we didn’t have a team. You know, women’s collegiate golf was almost nonexistent.

But I did have opportunity…it gave me an opportunity when it was possible to play as an individual in some of these mixed tournaments.

JE: You won the women’s Oklahoma Golf Association state amateur championship a record seven times between 1956 and 1975.

DM: That was fun; that was fun. Yeah, I worked hard at practice. I enjoyed practicing and I loved the competition. I really did. I was very proud of that and knew the record would be broken by a delightful girl by the name of Patty Coatney that lived in Ponca City, a wonderful player, and she ended up winning it eight times. I think the most exciting thing for me as far as Oklahoma golf…our new women’s golf coach at the University of Tulsa, Annie Young, played as an amateur and won the state’s championship this year. I said I am so excited to have her name on that trophy. She is the real deal. She is a great coach. They are doing well and they won their first two tournaments this spring so far. They’re playing well.

JE: That’s great to hear. Much of that is happening because of what you did. I was just thinking here since I cited this record seven times. These ladies today in college have coaches. You didn’t have a coach then, did you? Or was there someone…

DM: No but I had a pro. Jack Hedges was very instrumental in my golf. There are so many people that have helped me as far as learning the game, and I was receptive to learning. It’s a game that you never ever conquer (laughs). To me, it’s probably the hardest sport in the world because you have so much time in between shots to think either good

thoughts or bad thoughts. You know, it’s a mind game. It’s the most satisfying game in the world when you hit a good shot because only you did it (laughs).

JE: Right. What was the best part of your game? Was it putting, driving…what was it?

DM: I was a good putter. In those days, I was fairly long. But I thank my course management. I have my dad to think for that. He said, “Walk the land. Look at the land.” You know, he knew how. It was just learning each hole is so different and it was built by an architect that was testing you. You had to figure out the mystery of this particular hole, why it

rolled this way or why it did this way, playing into the wind, you know. So there was lots of that, and I enjoyed that. And I enjoyed teaching that.

JE: I like that—the mystery of each hole. I never heard it put that way (laughs). That’s good.

DM: (laughs)

Chapter 04 – 8:00 Dale Meets Jim

John Erling: About the LPGA, there’s been a trend for some time now the dominance of Korean golfers. That must be a surprise to you.

Dale McNamara: Oh, you know, I’ve been fortunate to have to me one of the best players that I’ve ever seen is Stacy Prammanasudh. Of course, her daddy is Thai, as is Stacy, and the patience and the calmness of the Asian culture is just so suited to the game in my eyes. They have the government employment which opened up the opportunity for these Asian ladies to play. I remember when Se Ri Pak came out for the first time. I was

[indiscernible] Melissa right behind her and, oh my goodness. As I said, they are just…the very, very control that they had. It may sound boring to some people but to me it was just kind of magic. And I think that is one of the reasons…and as I say, their government has given them as little bits and has sponsored their golf lessons and that makes a difference.

JE: So there’s a mindset that the South Koreans have.

DM: I just think Asians. I mean, look at their art. I admire that nationality so much. When you go on a golf course in Japan and you see a tree that’s been tied to support it, it’s not just tied—it’s tied with macramé. Everything they do is so precise and takes time and patience, and that golf is the same thing to me.

JE: That is interesting. I don’t know if I pronounced her name right—Se Ri Pak.

DM: Se Ri Pak, uh huh.

JE: Her success kind of sparked the boom in Korean women golfers.

DM: My heavens, it’s unbelievable. She is as revered as Elvis Presley was here, I guess. I mean, she is just total royalty as far as that country is concerned.

JE: Wow. So then when you’re at TU as a student and amateur, you’re just entering tournaments. You could do that as an individual player apparently, right?

DM: Right. And then I had an opportunity to go with a girlfriend of mine, a golfer from St.

Louis. My dad always told me; he said, “Honey, we’ll do everything in the world to help you play golf. Just remember that every time you touch a golf ball, it costs me 50 cents”…

JE: (laughs)

DM: Of course, now it’s like a couple of dollars. But at that time, I thought oh my gosh! So I really paid attention to practicing well and not goofing off. Every time I was around a golf ball, I worked hard at it. My family appreciated that and allowed me to go on

a fantastic tour in Florida. We started in January…I’m trying to remember where we started…Sea Island, Georgia I think it was…and worked our way down to all of these tournaments…some are more pro tournaments and some are more high-powered amateur tournaments…down one coast of Florida and up another. (laughs) I mean it was just incredible. We ended up playing in the North/South at Pinehurst, North Carolina. My parents drove out to North Carolina to watch me play and that’s where I met Jim, my husband, at Pinehurst. The qualifying day was canceled because of sleet. It was just terrible weather. We were all playing bridge the whole tournament. You know, we were all in the clubhouse playing bridge and there were some guys coming around and talked to us. He asked me where I was from and when I said I’m from Oklahoma, Tulsa, and he said, “Oooh, you really live in the sticks,” and I went who in the hell was that? (laughs) Later on, we were properly introduced and went out. I was playing golf during the day, went out on a date, and we loved to dance. He is a wonderful dancer and it was like we had taken lessons together. Well, I made it to the semi-finals and my legs just finally gave out on me (laughs) and I lost. But I also had my first hole in one there. My parents had just gotten there and Jim walked up. He was there with seven other guys from Erie, PA, to get out of the snow and have a spring fling. That was the beginning of our romance… long distance…two years later, we got engaged and got married.

JE: How about that! So because of too much dancing, you lost the tournament.

DM: (laughs) Exactly! It wasn’t drinking; it was just dancing (laughs).

JE: So how many holes in one do you remember you had in your career?

DM: I’ve had eight.

JE: Eight?

DM: Uh huh. That makes Melissa furious because she’s had six, I think. She says, “I’ve got to have as many holes as my mom.” (laughs)

JE: (laughs)

DM: All of those things that golf allows you to have are those very special things that you do only by yourself (laughs).

JE: Where was Jim from? Where was he born and raised?

DM: Erie, Pennsylvania. As I said, we got married and moved there and lived there for 4-1/2 years, I guess. I have never seen so much snow in my entire life and I’ll never forget the experience of watching Lake Erie freeze. It’s like Jello. You know, these soft waves and all of a sudden one day you wake up and it’s not moving anymore. (laughs) It was really something else. So I learned to ski and bobsled and all kinds of stuff.

JE: But in the summer, you were golfing.

DM: In the summer, I was golfing at a magnificent Donald Ross golf course—just wonderful. We played at a great golf course in Erie.

JE: What year did you get married?

DM: Oh gosh…

JE: I have here 1959, would that be…

DM: Thank you (laughs). We were married for 47 years and then I lost Jim in 2007. We had a great time—lots of fun, lots of golf together. He helped me so much with the golf program. Just a heck of a time.

JE: How old was he when he died?

DM: He was 75.

JE: I remember seeing him around town. He sure was a good looking guy. He was tall, I think, wasn’t he?

DM: Oh yeah, he was 6’3. We just had so much fun together.

JE: If you lived in Pennsylvania, then how did you decide to move back to Tulsa?

DM: Well, Pennsylvania was going through a horrible recession and terrible union stuff. You know, I’d never heard the word stabbed and that kind of stuff. Tulsa was just doing great. Every time we would come back to Tulsa for Christmas, the weather was great and we’re playing golf. Then we’d go back to that snow. Cathy was born there. I said, “Honey, it’s prosperous down here, it’s fun,” and so we moved to Tulsa. Didn’t regret it a bit.

JE: What was Jim’s profession?

DM: He was an estate planner.

Chapter 05 – 6:00 University of Tulsa Golf

John Erling: Oh by the way, and I was going to ask you, while you were playing at TU and you were going in these individual tournaments, were there golf programs in schools that

would recruit you and say, “Hey, listen, you don’t even have a golf program at TU. Why don’t you come play for us?” Did you get any of that?

Dale McNamara: No there just weren’t that many programs.

JE: Okay.

DM: No. In fact, when I left TU to go play in all these tournaments, I was ready to sign a contract with Wilson to turn professional and then I met Jim. And, of course, that’s the best decision I ever made was not to turn pro and to marry Jim, move back to Tulsa.

Melissa came along. We, you know, were playing a lot of golf and I get this call from the University of Tulsa saying, “We need to add women’s tennis and women’s golf to our athletics in order to comply with Title IX,” and I had interest in Title IX. So that’s how that all started.

JE: Why don’t you just briefly tell us what Title IX was.

DM: Title IX was finally a program that said that women had equal right to scholarships as men and if the university or college did not comply with that, then they would lose whatever federal funding they had. So it was a very harsh but a very fair law. It was quite contentious as you can imagine. No matter what you say, there was always the good old boy faction as far as athletics and women. The NPA did not recognize women’s sport and women’s championships. It just wasn’t fair, you know (laughs).

JE: Right.

DM: So as I got into coaching at TU…and I was very hesitant to do this, and Jim said, “Honey, you would love it.” Because I was starting to get a little bored. I just wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. It was a whole new challenge and I loved it (laughs). It was really interesting. I volunteered for two years; I didn’t have a salary. The budget was like $1,500—laughable. But women’s golf was just so fledgling. I took my team back to the Dick McGuire. No one had uniforms. No one had matched golf bags as far as the women’s teams, and there were like six women’s teams at New Mexico. But all of the top men’s teams were there because that was the site of the NPA championship that spring. So I’m looking at all of these men’s coaches and all of these nappy looking guys in their uniforms and matching bags and I thought, “I am going to learn how we get into that status.” And so I spent a lot of nights at the bar drinking with these coaches and just picking their brains. It was great. I made a lot of friends and I learned a lot. I came back and I said, “Now how am I gonna get money to pay for this?” So a wonderful friend of mine at Williams called me and

said, “Dale, what’s going on?,” and I told him what the situation was and what my budget was and he said, “Oh that’s ridiculous.” The next thing I know, I get a call from Paschal Twyman saying, “I just received a gift of quite a number of stocks from Williams to be put towards the women’s golf program.” He said, “Go get ’em.” And we were the first to have matching bags. We were the first women’s team to have matching uniforms. The uniforms…

you know, I didn’t know where to get ’em, Buddy Phillips out at Cedar Ridge gave us six red cashmere sweaters and I (laughs) treasured those like they were my wedding rings.

JE: (laughs)

DM: I kept them for the team for maybe six years. You know, I really, really…the beginning of class as far as the golf program was. So things like that got us going and then, of course, I remember Jenk Jones of the Tulsa Tribune at the time called me and said, “The sports editors of the newspapers across the country are having trouble how to figure out how to give women equal time as far as the newspaper” and so on and so forth, and he said, “There’s a panel in New York, and I wonder if you would go and state on behalf of Title IX” and so on and so forth. So I went on by myself to New York. The meeting was at

the Waldorf and I got all checked in. I’ll never forget it. The audience was full of these women’s libber/bra slinging tough gals and (laughs) I thought wait a minute! But anyway, we had quite the deal and I said there’s one thing about a newspaper—you cut out your article and you put it in your wallet and you save it as something really special. I told them that you cannot demand that a school give you—or a paper or anything—give you equal time unless you do something. I said you can’t put a man in a corner and say I demand this. You’ve got to prove that you are worth it. And that we did. That happened because of Nancy Lopez and instant tradition.

JE: Yes.

Chapter 06 – 8:10 Nancy Lopez

John Erling: That does bring you to Nancy. Was she your first recruit?

Dale McNamara: No, she came in…we had been in existence for a year. It just so happened that timing was right. I had been reading about Nancy from Golf World Magazine, which was a little tiny three or four page bulletin really at the time. At age 12, she had done this. You know, I mean, she was just kind of phenomenal as a little kid. And as it turned out, she was a senior in high school and I wanted to recruit her, but so did several other schools, but I didn’t have a full scholarship. So I went in to F.A. Dry, who was the athletic director, and before I even tried to recruit her, I went in and I said, “If you had the opportunity to recruit O.J. Simpson (laughs)…at this time now, O.J. Simpson, would you offer him a half scholarship?” and he said, “Of course not!” And I said, “Well I’ve got an

O.J. Simpson. Will you allow me to give a full scholarship and trust me?” He said, “I trust you, you’re doing good.”

JE: Very good.

DM: So that was my…you know, okay, now we go. So I flew down on a private plane with Buddy Phillips who had business in El Paso, and I had another recruit I was looking at in El Paso. So we made a stop in Roswell. Nancy picked us up at the airport, took us back to her home and a delightful mother and father. I cannot tell you how much I absolutely loved that family. We sat down on the floor and went through the scrapbook and drank hot chocolate and it was immediate rapport. Her mother and dad, Domingo and Maria, they were just unbelievable. They both had a third grade education. They met sharecropping. He had a knack for mechanics and ended up taking care of a plant owner’s equipment and they set up a little shop. He and Maria went out and played golf on the public golf course. They liked golf, and Nancy would go along behind them with a little tiny pair of clubs. The next thing

you know, she’s hitting the ball into them, past them, and that’s how she started her golf.

JE: Shortly after she graduated from Goddard High School in Roswell, New Mexico, she played in the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur, first in ’74 and again in ’75 where she tied for second.

DM: Yeah.

JE: She must have by this time come to the attention of other schools too, hadn’t she?

DM: Oh my gosh, yes. But I had her. Then as it turns out, she was awarded the Coalgate scholarship…full scholarship. So it freed up a scholarship at Tulsa (laughs).

JE: Hmm…

DM: Yeah, it’s just delightful. And I knew we’d have her for two years and we shouldn’t have her for anymore because her talent was so special and the way she thought about golf, which was all due to her dad. But she was going to really blossom and, of course, she did.

JE: When you went to her home and you connected, you hadn’t seen her play golf in person, had you?

DM: Huh uh, huh uh.

JE: So you were just going on the attention of the magazine you read about and you knew what she’d been doing and based on the report, and then the fact that the two of you connected, you knew you had something there.

DM: Yep. It was just one of those things. I don’t know how else to put it but it was just one of those things…like the song. You know, we still keep in contact. In fact, all three of her daughters graduated from Auburn.

JE: Oh my. We’ll get to that Auburn story too in a minute. But as a freshman in ’76, she was named All American and Female Athlete of the Year. That year, she won the Association of Intercollegiate Athletes for Women, that’s AIAW National Intercollegiate Gold Championship and was a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup and world amateur teams. Voila!

DM: (laughs)

JE: I mean, this was like a young Tiger Woods.

DM: Absolutely. And she had the personality. Her daddy would say, “Nancy, if you smile, everybody will love you.”

JE: (laughs) Yes, it was beautiful.

DM: “Nancy, if you cry, you can’t see.” I mean, these were wonderful, simple, but so potent things that he put in her mind. And he said, “Time is valuable, don’t waste it.” (laughs) And I’ve always remembered it.

JE: That magic that happened between the two of you, it may not have happened. When you came in there, you might have been kind of a different kind of personality and she felt funny about you. So it was that magic that we say that happens between people that made this work.

DM: Right, yeah (sighs). Let me say to this day, I think about her parents and how much I loved them. Every Christmas, Maria would make me a whole pot of the most marvelous tamales for Christmas. And we had just such a close…oh my gosh, what a wonderful, wonderful family that was.

JE: She leaves to you after her sophomore year to turn pro in 1977. Were you supportive of her doing that?

DM: Absolutely. It was time for her to make a hit on the LPGA. There was money needed. In fact, at the end of her freshman year, I said, “One more year, Nancy, and it’s time to go.” And her parents agreed. It was just time to do it. She was ready and the stage was waiting for her.

JE: You hated to see her go but you knew it was right.

DM: Of course. I missed her. She was fun (laughs).

JE: She was the only woman to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, and the Vare trophy in the same season in 1978.

DM: Well, was she ready or was she ready? (laughs)

JE: I guess so. I guess she was ready, right! She would have been 19–20 years old?

DM: Yeah. And everywhere she went, she had the audience, the people, the players in the palm of her hand. She was just so popular. It went so good.

JE: She had charisma, didn’t she?

DM: She sure did, her smile and just was so appreciative.

JE: What was the best part of her game?

DM: Her confidence in herself.

JE: Wow.

DM: I call it inner conceit. She was full of inner conceit. She didn’t show it, but that would have been rude, you know. And I used that with my teams, you know. You’ve got to have inner conceit. You gotta wake up tomorrow and look in the mirror and say, “I am so

good.” You know (laughs). And keep it inside yourself. The wonderful putters have the ability if you have a bad shot to let it go and continue on. I mean, she just was a good player all around.

JE: You’ve seen so many, many players whether you recruited them or not, but you knew they had the ability and they had the skill but they didn’t have this...I’m going to call it mental toughness that you talked about with Nancy. Would that be true?

DM: Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of players that if they just…you’ve got to have that mental toughness.

I’ve seen a lot of wonderful players on the edge of being great and just never could bring it through. Interesting. And I was lucky to have a daughter who had a ton of mental toughness—Melissa.

JE: I’m going to get to that.

Chapter 07 – 4:30 Trivia Question

John Erling: Over the next 26 years, you built a program, became known worldwide, your teams won 80 championships, 4 national championships, you coached 28 All-Americans and 3 individual national champions, 60 tournament victories, and produced more than 25 first or second team All-Americans and many LPGA tour players. We’re talking about you, Dale (laughs).

Dale McNamara: (laughs) One thing that hit me the other day. We had 5 runner up national championships—finished second 5 times.

JE: Oh my.

DM: One of them still gives me a nightmare, but that’s alright (laughs).

JE: What about that one?

DM: Oooh….

JE: (laughs)

DM: We had it all tied up at Stanford going into the last hole and two of my players missed 18- inch putts and San Jose beat us by 1.

JE: Oh my…

DM: (laughs) I still want to barf every time I think about it (laughs).

JE: That’s a decent length putt isn’t it—18 inches?

DM: No…18 inches?! That’s just over a foot! (laughs) Those are gimmes, but you gotta practice it. And I made my girls at the end of every practice make 50 two-footers and if they missed at 47, they had to start over again.

JE: Oh my…

DM: So they were great, but I knew they cheated on me and didn’t practice them. I said, “I’m leaving, do your 50-footers and, you know it’s full trust (laughs). Rrrrr…… (laughs)

JE: There you are a coach. It had to be difficult to handle that. You were so disappointed and the girls who missed it had to be awful and you had to be supportive of them in defeat.

DM: That’s where you put on your academy award performance…

JE: (laughs)

DM: Never down trod the kids and you never let them see you in a state of panic. Because you can’t yell and scream like you do in basketball or football. So all of those emotions for a coach…you know, you gotta discipline someone, you say, “Come to my office,” close the door, you know, and make light of it. And there was plenty of that too. But as just me personally saying—that was a heartbreak. That was really hard to swallow. It still is! (laughs)

JE: So you had to re-live it here.

DM: I have a little spurt of competitiveness left in me, I think.

JE: That’s good to hear. Okay, here’s a great trivia question that I can ask the audience. Who has won more national titles than Bud Wilkinson who won three, than Barry Switzer who won three, and Hank Iba who won two? And the answer is you who won four.

DM: Yeah.

JE: That’s pretty amazing. That’s a great trivia question.

DM: It was neat, to say there are 46 years of just amazing stories and how lucky am I, huh?

JE: Yes, well you were blessed in many, many ways. In 1982, the Tulsa women won the first ever NCAA championship and the last ever AIAW championship.

DM: Yeah (laughs). It was setting those girls up. I said, “OK, we are in a process. We have the quality and the ability to make history that will never, ever be broken again. Now are you ready for it?” We go out to Stanford. That’s the first NCAA championship. We just flat played great golf. Kathy Baker was medalist. We finished individually 1, 2 and 3, I believe. Won it by 30-some odd shots. I mean, we did killer! And then in the first part of June, we go to Ohio State to play Scarlett [name of course] which is such a class golf course and we win the AI [indiscernible]. It was something else, and they did it. My gosh, those girls… talk about tough. They were just fantastic. And it was fun.

Chapter 08 – 4:54 Melissa

John Erling: In 1988, not only did Tulsa win the NCAA championship, but that’s when Melissa was playing as a team member?

Dale McNamara: Yep. She was a senior.

JE: So she was part of that team, and she won the individual championship.

DM: That was a storybook situation…to have your team win, to have Melissa win…I was honored with coach of the year in NCAA. Parents were there. It was just beautiful.

JE: Talk to us about introducing golf to Melissa. Did you put a putter in her hand at 3 months, or how did that begin?

DM: When I would go out and practice, when she was little, I would put her in the cart with a little kiddie seat. And then she got older and would be on the driving range where I could see her. One day she had grabbed a stick from a tree and she would swing it. She was probably 3 or 4, something like that. Perfect little golf swing, just perfect little baseball grip. She was mimicking what I’m doing, and then just let her play around with it. When she got older, it was obvious that this young lady had some natural abilities. She’d always been hand-eye coordinated anyway; you know, catching a ball and that kind of stuff. And that’s how that got started.

JE: Hmm…

DM: This was at Cedar Ridge. [Indiscernible name] was the assistant pro at Cedar Ridge and he took Melissa on. I did not ever want to teach her to play. I wanted her to, you know, get away from mom. He was wonderful with her. Again, the simplicities like learning how to read a green…knowing where your put is going to go. He said, “Now if you were a drop of water, where would you run to?” and that made sense to her, a little girl. She just got better and better and better. And she was like me…because that’s where all the kids and guys were. You know, as she got older, she said “Uh huh!” (laughs)

JE: (laughs) Right.

DM: But she was good and she is a great coach.

JE: What about Cathy? Did she take up golf at all, was she interested?

DM: Oh yes. Cathy can hit the ball out of site. She hit it so far. But Cathy was also into drama and stage. She could get up on a stage or a debate and just knock you over. And her interests were there. She loved to play golf. She laughs and giggles and can care less about…you know, she has a wonderful golf swing, but it was fun. And oh my gosh, when the two of them get on the golf course, they are hysterical. But she doesn’t play that much. But she is a beautiful little performer (laughs).

JE: So I can see you, Melissa and Cathy—a threesome there on the golf course. Did that happen and did they beat you?

DM: We played together. Of course, I can’t play anymore. But yeah, we played, and we’d laugh and giggle. Yeah, I enjoyed playing with Melissa because she would listen. She would listen to course management. She is very good with course management. And we have a deal now that she’ll call me and say, “Listen to this and tell me what you think,” and she’ll tell me a situation, whether it be a player or a hole or whatever…what do you think? And I’d tell her what I think and she’d take some of it and some of it she wouldn’t, you know. And that’s the way our relationship is as far as the golf team at Auburn or wherever she was. Cathy and I live together. We have a darling place in Florence Park. Cathy is just fabulous (laughs).

JE: What did Cathy go on to do?

DM: Cathy was a travel agent for Williams for many years. She did all the executive travel for them and then they outsourced. She decided there’s a lot of stress in that. If the weather changed, she have…you know, it was a lot of stress.

JE: Yeah.

DM: And she said, “I want to do something that I really enjoy,” and she is a nail tech and just adores it and is making a delightful living and just having the time of her life. I laugh at her; I say, “Okay, here you’re taking care of mom.” And I say, “Mom,” and I start calling myself the large toddler (laughs).

JE: (laughs)

DM: And she takes care of the large toddler and two big dogs (laughs).

JE: (laughs)

Chapter 09 – 12:00 Coach Melissa

John Erling: We talk about introducing golf to your children, but another golfer who is in the news today started at an early age even before he was a year old according to his dad and that is Tiger Woods.

Dale McNamara: Oh my gosh…

JE: And for the record, I must say here Tiger Woods was involved in a single car crash this past Tuesday causing several injuries to both of his legs, putting into doubt his ability to play professionally again and we just heard yesterday that in surgery, they put a pin in his right leg and then his ankles were crushed and then he had to do some work on his

left. So everybody is thinking about him these days, so I just needed to put that in for the record for those who will listen back to this. That’s a pretty sad story.

DM: It is sad. I always took my team to Stanford to play in tournaments and when Tiger was there, some of the girls on the team and Tiger all played in junior tournaments together. He would come out on the golf course and cheer everybody on…the sweetest guy in the world. (sighs) Yeah, it’s tragic.

JE: Oh that’s interesting. You remember him at Stanford?

DM: Oh yeah, oh yeah. In fact, when he came to Tulsa to play in…was it the open or the PGA when he played? I can’t remember. Anyway, he had all of the Tulsa girls and the Tulsa guys over to the hotel. They just…you know, he was still a kid; he was young. You know, he was 21 or whatever. And every time I would see him, he would say, “Hey coach,” you know. He was just so nice. (sighs) Yeah, it’s tragic.

JE: Yeah. Is there a female golfer who has dominated the way Tiger did?

DM: Boy you’d stump me…Nancy is close. But modern day, I don’t think so. I think Nancy is as close and she was great.

JE: Well she got the attention of everybody like Tiger did so there’s a similarity there.

DM: Yeah they both have a foundation for young golfers and all, which you don’t hear about a lot. That’s great; you know, they keep their hand in the game to help others.

JE: And then Melissa plays for you. Was that difficult as a mother coaching her?

DM: (laughs) Oh we laugh now about her freshman year because I was so concerned that I would show any kind of favoritism and so on, and I made it too tough on her. But we got through it (laughs). It was wonderful to watch her progress and to play and to become such a leader. She was very much the leader of the team. No, it was a blessing. She majored in marketing/in business. In one course, she had exams in a couple of days and she had a final exam and she was sweating it out. Now she’s living in an apartment with another friend and I come up there, knock on the door. It’s about 8:00 in the morning and I knew she was studying and I said, “This will get you through,” and I handed her a little bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream (laughs).

JE: (laughs)

DM: And we laugh about it to this day. I said oh wow, I broke every rule in the book! She had a wonderful time in college and I encouraged it because one does not live by golf alone. She was a member of Chi Omega and an officer and did her deal. She had a wonderful time in college and she had a wonderful time as a pro.

JE: Right. You know, I was just thinking here, it’s unusual that this talent is transferred to the next generation. That doesn’t always happen…

DM: No it doesn’t.

JE: …but it obviously happened here.

DM: You know, when you get the first mother and daughter this or the first mother and daughter reward for that, and we look at each other and shake our heads and think good gosh. You know, this is really...(laughs) because it kind of knocks you in the jaw and thinking wow, it just doesn’t happen a lot. It’s been just absolutely wonderful to see her career, she is happily married, and her coaching life has just been phenomenal.

JE: I want to get into that here. She spent 11 years on the tour, so that shows how strong she was.

DM: And she had to quit because her feet were terrible. They got to the place that it was painful. She’d call me and she’d say, “Mom, I’ll just…,” and I said, “Get off the golf course!” But it was time for me to retire. I knew there would be a time when I’d say “that’s it.” And I talked to her. I said come with me to nationals out in Oregon, and she did. And I kind

of turned a few things over to her. Her rapport with the girls was perfect. And I thought here’s my new coach. Everything worked out and she coached for Tulsa and did really well. Then Arizona State’s coach called and she said, “I wouldn’t even talk to her until I talked to you, Dale, but we would love to have her as our head coach.” I said, “Well, that’s her decision and it’s a wonderful opportunity,” and I said, “Fine.” It was a tough job. So off she goes to Arizona State. She won her national championship there.

JE: In 2009, she won the national title.

DM: But she walked into a program that was really in sad shape because their head coach had had a horrible accident and he couldn’t really coach anymore. It took her about two or three years to get that going, and she did. She built it up. They lived up in Cave Creek. It was an hour to work and an hour back. The commuting was terrible. Then all of a sudden, Auburn called and bingo! They flew her out there and, I mean…have you ever been to Alabama, John?

JE: No I haven’t.

DM: Oh it’s the most beautiful little college town and the university is absolutely gorgeous. They romanced her like you wouldn’t believe. Oh! And she again had taken a program where their coach had a terrible recovery but did recover from very serious cancer.

Melissa walked in there and, by God, she brought this program back up again and they’re just doing great…making more in their semi-finals, the NCAA last year. Yeah, she’s happy and she’ll retire there. She loves it. And that’s what it’s all about.

JE: Interesting you asked me if I have been to Auburn. Just as an aside, my granddaughter, Emma, and her father, David—she’s looking at colleges right now and so they went to Auburn last week…

DM: Oh really.

JE: …and then they went to Ole Miss. Now they’re going to look at Kansas and OU. So as an aside, they liked Auburn and enjoyed the campus there as well.

DM: Great. Well it’s one of the friendliest…it’s just cool. It really is. Plus the fact she doesn’t have to raise money. They’ve got plenty of money.

JE: Okay. To show you how strong Melissa was, she was inducted into the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Player Hall of Fame in ’98, the WGCA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014, and the University of Tulsa Hall of Fame in 2000. You know, just because she was a good player doesn’t mean she’d be a good coach but she was a good coach as well.

DM: Absolutely. She has what it takes to understand this game. It’s a game that requires, first of all, a lot of respect and a lot of dignity. I always told my players, I said, “If you treat the game of golf like you would a boyfriend, where there’s respect, there’s dignity, there’s discipline, there’s arguments and get over it, but it is almost a living thing to play a decent game of golf.”

JE: Would she ever ask you for advice as a coach?

DM: Oh yeah. That’s what I was talking about. You know, she’ll call and say I’ve got this situation or that situation, but I never try to offer it to her. My gosh, she’s a veteran now in coaching. But yeah, we still talk. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, you know.

JE: Right. Does she have children?

DM: No they do not. JE: I tried playing golf. DM: Did you?

JE: I walked around depressed so much and the greatest day in the world is when I threw my clubs in the lake and I’ve never been depressed since.

DM: (laughs) It’ll do that to you. (laughs)

JE: Right. I played where I lived in North Dakota and then in Omaha, Nebraska. And when I got here, I said I’m not gonna do that anymore, and Tulsa has been a wonderful place to live because I did not play golf.

DM: (laughs) That’s great!

JE: (laughs) But, you know, I see these athletes…they’re great in other sports and then you hear about them playing golf and they’re good at that too. Is there something about being a good athlete?

DM: Yeah, I think…well, again it absolutely has self-control. You know, that’s one think. I think football…you know, like Fitzgerald from the Cardinals, he’s a wonderful golfer. But to be able to have that individual satisfaction of hitting a good shot and nobody blocking for you and nobody passing, you know you and you alone are out there and that’s fascinating to a good athlete who is on a team. It’s so different; it’s so totally different.

JE: I remember when I was playing golf, we could have a really bad round but somehow that last shot of the day was a good one, which always brought you back.

DM: You bet. And I always tell the girls, come off the golf course and I don’t want to hear about such; I want to hear about your 10 best shots. I don’t care what you shoot. I want to hear about your 10 best shots. Then we’ll talk about the bad shot later on, but right now I want you to implant your 10 best shots. I tell you one thing, we talk about sayings and so on, my dad…he said I want you to hit it like a man and walk like a lady. And that is the first thing when I’d have a first team meeting with my team…that and I said there’s two things you’re gonna have to do…never throw the flag pin down, lay it on the ground…I said you are a guest wherever you play and you treat that golf course nicely. Do not slam that pin down. I hate that more than anything in the world (laughs).

JE: I remember playing with a guy that took notes.

DM: Yeah.

JE: He had this little notebook and at the end of the round, he’d be standing over there taking notes. I said, “Frank, what are you doing?” He says, “Well, I’m taking notes of things that I should be practicing on.” I couldn’t believe it.

DM: Well not only that but you take yardages and different things you want to do on a hole.

Everybody has their notebook. We’d have our team meetings before the first round. We’d pass those books around to each other and I’d say write something funny on whatever hole; just write something about your teammate and then do it around. Well it was so much fun, they’d get out on the golf course and they’d open up at like the third hole. It was a riot to see them laugh and kind of break the ice (laughs).

JE: That was a great idea.

DM: Yeah.

Chapter 10 – 8:10 Park Board

John Erling: Are there other names that you might mention now that you coached, you had at your program and all that stand out to you?

Dale McNamara: Kathy Baker from North Carolina; of course, first NCAA women’s champion.

And then her first tournament as a pro, she went to the U.S. Open. She now lives in Florida, has several children, a couple grandchildren. Of course, Nancy. Stacy P/Stacy Prammanasudh is absolutely the epitome of a college player. She was a straight A student. She had a very successful career as a pro. She had two children. She lives in Broken Arrow. You know they say the thing about when you really know you’ve been a good coach is to look at your players 10 years after they leave school; what are they

doing? And, John, I can’t tell you how wonderful these girls are living their lives and their children and their husbands and their careers…it just makes my heart swell. I’m just so proud of them. And, yeah, I’ll admit it—I’m proud of myself. It’s been quite the run, hasn’t it (laughs).

JE: It really has, and this 10-year thing in observing the way they were living—that could almost bring the same joy as when you actually won a tournament or a championship.

DM: Sure, oh sure. And I know when I retired, I thought what in the world am I going to do, and then I get this phone call from Walt Helmerich wanting to lunch. And I thought okay,

I know him vaguely…what does he want? (laughs) So we had lunch and he wanted me to come on the park board. He said we’ll reserve golf courses and no one on the board

knows anything about golf and I think there are some problems there and blah blah blah. And that started a whole new life for me and a whole new mentor. I cannot tell you how much Walt Helmerich has meant in my life, and Peggy has been so fantastic.

JE: So you brought a lot of knowledge with your golf background to the Park Board. Tell me then what you did to improve the courses in your many years of service there.

DM: Well, Susan Savage was the mayor at the time when I first went on the Park Board. Also, Tulsa was getting ready to host, I believe, it was either the PGA or the Open at Southern Hills in a couple or three years. I hadn’t been to the public courses. I went out with

my little camera to each one of the golf courses and I took pictures. I took pictures at Mohawk and I took pictures at Page. They were in terrible shape. I remember there was one hole at Mohawk that had a creek running in front of the tee and the weeds were so high that you couldn’t get to drive up quick enough to get over the weeds to even get to the fairway. It was horrible. But I had all those pictures developed. I took them to Walt and from there, we took them to Susan. I said here’s what you’re going to sell all these people that are coming in for the Open who love to play golf after they galleried. They come from all over the country and this is the curb appeal of the city of Tulsa is the golf courses, and in most cities. And she understood it, we went to work and got our golf courses in beautiful shape with new management and so on. It was highly successful.

Since then, golf has not been the first item on the Park Board agenda, I’m sad to say. I retired from the Park Board sometime ago and I’ve been very sad to see that the golf courses are back to pretty bad situations. I hope they will realize how important it is to put on a good face when you have all these national tournaments coming in to this city and how many people want to play golf while they’re here. But as far as being on the Park Board, it was really exciting, and then I became chairman for many years and realized that you know, I don’t have an agenda and I could really say what I wanted to say and voice

an opinion. We got a lot of things accomplished. The parks are just so vital to a city and to its energy and to its perception. To anybody who wants to bring an industry into Tulsa,

Oklahoma, the first thing they’re going to look at is what are their parks like, what do they give to the citizens…it was vitally important and I’m glad I had a part in it.

JE: While you were there, Walt was such a promoter of playground equipment. So you saw that happening.

DM: Absolutely. Of course, Walt and Mr. Zarrow built the Central Recreation Hall, the skate- board park, the soccer fields that we have now. We just really, I think, added to the city. Then, of course, with The Gathering coming, it was just even…you know, it was just better.

JE: Yes. As chair, you kind of had to not just think about golf courses, you thought about all of the facilities.

DM: Oh yeah. Yeah, it was a fulltime job and it was great for me personally because it was a brand new world for me. I realized how interesting it is dealing with the city, dealing with politics, dealing with diplomacy (laughs). You know, you can imagine all the things that happened. But one of the exciting things that happened while I was chairman was Gilcrease Museum and its partnership with the University of Tulsa. I was in the middle

of that and I loved it. It was a great thing. Oh, there’s just so many fun things/wonderful things happened with the city and with parks and with the citizens.

JE: Of course, you knew this from your prior life—just because you had a great idea as chair doesn’t mean that everybody on the board saw it as a great idea, right?

DM: True, true, absolutely. There were (laughs) many, many, many contentious moments. Some things worked out and some things didn’t. But [indiscernible] and with the wonderful park director, Lucy Dolman, parks were in great shape.

JE: Yeah, and we should say here about LaFortune, that’s a county park, right? DM: Exactly, a wonderful park, beautifully maintained and a real plus for Tulsa. JE: So then the city maintains Mohawk and Page Belcher, is that it?

DM: Correct.

JE: Is it kind of a struggle to maintain the level of LaFortune Park?

DM: It is now because apparently it’s not a priority with this present park department and its director. As I said, with the coming of the PGA tournaments, I hope they will realize how important it is to put your best foot forward to tell the world Oklahoma has always been a great golf city and it should remain that way. There are three things I asked for on the board and that’s golf, Tulsa University and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Chapter 11 – 6:20 Invitational Tournaments

John Erling: Golf for the average young person, I think, it probably difficult to get into because kids can go out and play basketball—that’s real easy; football—you can get in with a team; baseball—I remember in my childhood, you just pick up a ball and a glove and you go out and play. It’s more difficult…and I remember wanting to look at that world and get into

it but my parents weren’t that kind of people so I never did until I became an adult. I do know there’s First Tee Tulsa.

Dale McNamara: I remember being on the first board to get First Tee going and it is one of the best chapters in the whole country, what Janice Gibson has done with that program. First Tee is open to kids to learn to play golf plus life skills. Page Belcher, all the public courses, have group lessons. As I said, Maggie Roller/Maggie Kelt Roller has the LPGA girls camp where parents can bring their little ones in. You can look it up in your golf book for kids

in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There are quite a few. They are well done and most clubs have junior programs. Of course, those are for junior members. But all the public courses have openings for kids to play. It’s a great sport to play for as long as they are able.

JE: Right.

DM: I’m always sorry that I can’t play anymore but I lost my eye about 10 years ago and can’t do it. Balance is no longer there! (laughs)

JE: You lost your eye?

DM: Oh yeah.

JE: How did that happen?

DM: Oh you don’t want to get into it…

JE: Okay, alright.

DM: It was an accident and fortunately it was my right eye so I can drive without any problems and all. I’m just lucky. If I had been in my 30s or 40s, I would have been screaming. But I’ve been there and done most of the things I’ve wanted to do and it hasn’t held me back too much.

JE: That’s great. What advice do you have for these young women golfers or males or to any person to make their plans for their lives? What do you say to them?

DM: Oh gosh, John. If you’re going to play golf, you’re going to find yourself meeting all kinds of wonderful people to play with. Golf becomes a very small world. Just mention “do you play golf?;” “Yeah, I do.” But the thing you learn through golf is self-control. You have rules and you put them on yourself; no one else will. It just makes for a better person.

You’re going to enjoy it more and more. Everybody doesn’t have to be a great player. There are handicaps that you play with. It’s just a life sport.

JE: This thought comes to mind when you’re out there…and I know Tiger has talked about this…you’re standing out there and the whole world is looking at you and it’s not a team… they’re just looking at you. You’re standing there all by yourself.

DM: Uh huh…

JE: There isn’t another sport like that, is there?

DM: Huh uh…there really isn’t. And they learn by you. They learn when they watch someone like Lopez or someone like Tiger. The gallery—they learn. She handles that very well.

Whenever I go out and recruit, I look at a girl and when she’s in trouble, boy I’m really eagle eyed to see how she handles herself, how her parents handle themselves. There’s a whole bunch of stuff when things aren’t going right and how you handle yourself on the golf course.

JE: Yeah because we can’t see what’s going on in their mind, the turmoil that’s going on in their mind and how they’re fighting to suppress any negative.

DM: Right. I used to have a player that would just have a fit. And I said look, just take your towel and chew on it. Seriously. Get it out without showing that you’re going to act like an idiot (laughs). If I ever see a player throw a club, she’s off the team. I just don’t have that. But it will make you boil you’re so mad.

JE: Yeah. Did you ever have to kick anybody off a team?

DM: Yep, not because of that, but yeah. Everything isn’t golden (laughs).

JE: No it isn’t. By the way, we didn’t mention the invitational tournaments. We had the Nancy Lopez Invitational Tournaments played at Cedar Ridge for many years. And you too—you had the Dale McNamara Invitational Tournament in 2010.

DM: And then we had some coaching problems. And finally, they have this wonderful coach that TU has now and things are going to look up there.

JE: You played at The Patriot and Golf Club of Oklahoma, Tulsa Country Club, so that must have been fun…

DM: They’re beautiful.

JE: …to be a hostess to that.

DM: Yes, it’s always an honor to be recognized; you know, to have something named after you.

It’s nice.

JE: Absolutely.

DM: (laughs)

JE: They ought to put a statue of you at TU. Don’t they have one of Glen Dobbs, the football coach?

DM: I think so (laughs).

JE: I think we need to put one up for you and Nancy too, as a matter of fact, and Melissa.

Let’s get the three of you out there in a statue.

DM: (laughs) When you go into the Reynolds Center and they had the big picture of the golf team and me with our trophy after we won the two tournaments in ’82…and then there’s the Hall of Fame plaques and several of the girls from the team are on it…they’re very appreciative of what’s happened at the university. It’s like my home; they treat me very nicely. I’m so tickled that Rick and Brenda Dickson are back. I just love them!

JE: Yes, he came back at the right time, didn’t he?

DM: Yes.

Chapter 12 – 2:13

How To Be Remembered

John Erling: As you reflect, how would you like to be remembered?

Dale McNamara: Hmm, well there’s a good question. I would like to be remembered as loving what I’ve done and where I’m doing and that hopefully some good has come out of it.

JE: Yeah, a lot of good will come out of it. I’ve talked to several people. You talk about their life and this happened and this happened and it was all to their benefit and they didn’t realize what was happening to them. But as you look back on the entire story, you realize there was a plan from the beginning. I’m feeling that about you too. I mean, the fact that you were born with this talent, you were nurtured by a family, and then the junior golf and all that, and then the relationships you had with the LPGA people. I mean, you gotta give credit to somebody up there in the sky that was overlooking the life of Dale McNamara.

DM: Tell me about it. I never forget it. Yeah. And that saying that one does not live by golf alone…in other words, opening up to other people and other lives and other talents and so on…has really meant a lot to me. It’s opened up opportunities that I would have never dreamed of. But it all started with golf and so many people involved with my life. And I’ve been involved with a lot of people and their lives (laughs), so it’s a wonderful circle.

JE: Yeah. Well, I’m honored to have talked to you and to have you as part of our website,, and I just know there will be young people that will listen to some of the things you’ve just said. So you’ve been coaching this morning too, coach.

DM: Oh John, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you would think of me and loved talking with you and love what you’re doing…bringing all these people together and I’m just very proud to be one of them.

JE: Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

DM: Thank you, my dear.

JE: You bet.

Chapter 13 – 0:33 Conclusion

Announcer: This oral history presentation is made possible through the support of our generous foundation-funders. We encourage you to join them by making your donation, which will allow us to record future stories. Students, teachers, and librarians are using this website for research and the general public is listening every day to these great Oklahomans share their life experience. Thank you for your support as we preserve Oklahoma’s legacy one voice at a time, on

Production Notes

Interview with Dale McNamara

Program Credits:
Dale McNamara — Interviewee
John Erling — Interviewer
Mel Myers — Announcer

Honest Media
Mel Myers — Audio Editor

Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Douglas Miller — Art Director
Mark DeMoss — Webmaster
Laura Hyde — Upload Coordinator

Date Created: February 25, 2001

Date Published: March 18, 2022

Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.

Tags: Polio, Southern Hills, LPGA, Patty Berg, Tiger Woods, Nancy Lopez, Melissa McNamara, Stanford, Auburn, Park Board, Walt Helmerich, golf, University of Tulsa

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Cite This Work

McNamara, Dale. "Dale McNamara: TU Women's Golf Team Founder & Coach" Interview by John Erling. Voices of Oklahoma, February 25, 2001,, Accessed April 21, 2024