Named to golf hall of fame, Shelly Monahan: ‘My 20 years as a pro were some of the most rewarding’

It’s the sort of honor women’s basketball players and surfers might earn by comparison: Title IX gold medal winner named the inductee to the National Women’s Golf Hall of Fame. The announcement from the…

Named to golf hall of fame, Shelly Monahan: ‘My 20 years as a pro were some of the most rewarding’

It’s the sort of honor women’s basketball players and surfers might earn by comparison: Title IX gold medal winner named the inductee to the National Women’s Golf Hall of Fame.

The announcement from the PGA National Resort in New Albany, Ind., today didn’t come as a complete surprise. She’s already in the Grand Slam of Golf Hall of Fame.

But if you saw why she has earned the title of greatest all-sport athlete ever by a female, more than a decade before women were even allowed to compete in golf, then you had to see Shelly Monahan.

A 20-year-old graduate of John Carroll in 1996, Monahan made the tournament cut on the second day at the U.S. Open in the 164th year of the venerable Open. That was the same year LPGA rules changed, ending gender restrictions that had prevented women from playing and competing on public courses. LPGA Tour rules also granted the rights of membership to women for the first time.

But there were still quite a few men’s tournaments that only gave a right of membership to men, like the Western Open in Chicago, the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda and the Greater Hartford Open, among others. For Monahan, age 20, it meant playing the 1995 Women’s Western Open, then the longest running of all the majors, on a U.S. Open course. Monahan played in a group with Connie Duke, the daughter of Gary Player, then the world’s greatest player.

Monahan was paired with Title IX and, really, the women’s rights movement.

“She played in the Open in ’96 and won at Western,” Monahan told The Washington Post’s Cliff Hughes. “I was 21 and Gary Player was 50.”

Monahan and her friend left her ball so she could hit it back. Duke took the boys’ ball and put it in a bag with an old paper bag because it didn’t have a bag tag. For the first time ever in the tournament, the men’s ball did.

“I got my ball back, played a good shot and I fell in love with the game,” Monahan told Hughes. “I was lucky enough to make the cut that week. It’s not every day you get to play with the best players in the world and learn the craft and where to strike the ball, and a lot of the game is mental.”

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