May 3, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. - Former University of Oklahoma women’s golf coach, Joan Blumenthal, was one of four inductees in the class of 2010 for the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association Hall of Fame in ceremonies held earlier this week in Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Blumenthal, credited as the coach who set the foundation for the Sooner golf program, served as the first full-time Sooner coach from the fall of 1975 until she left her coaching position in 1982 for health reasons. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1979, Blumenthal remained with the department as coordinator of promotions until her health forced her to resign in September 1984. She lost her courageous battle with cancer in February 1985 at the age of 53.
A native of Louisiana, Blumenthal was a pioneer in the women’s collegiate golf field. Her Sooner teams won nine tournaments during her career, including two Big Eight titles. She had a team or individual qualify in each of her seven years for the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championship, the predecessor to the NCAA for governance of women’s collegiate athletics. Her teams never finished lower than third in the Big Eight tournament during her seven years.
She coached conference champion winning teams in 1978 and 1981 and coached Big Eight medalists Lindsey Wetzel in 1976 and Dorea Mitchell in 1981.
An accomplished golfer herself, she didn’t begin playing the game until her 20s. Her name is listed on a number of Oklahoma City area club championship trophies, including six at Hillcrest Country Club. She played in the USGA Amateur Championship and the Women’s Southern Championship in Shreveport, La.
An accomplished rules’ official, she was serving as a member of the Oklahoma City Women’s Evaluation team that re-rated golf courses in the OKC area according to the rule of the PGA when she took the job at OU. She also was a member of the teaching division of the LPGA throughout her career.
Following her death, her children, Max, Marsha and Karlyn, all of the Oklahoma City area, established a memorial scholarship fund in her name at OU and, with former Sooner coach, Carol Ludvigson, who also played for Blumenthal, created the Blumenthal Award which is given annually to the women’s golf team’s most valuable player.
The Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association Hall of Fame was begun in 2005 and is the only golf hall of fame in the state of Oklahoma. Classes are inducted every other year and its honorees are recognized at the Lake Hefner Golf Course in Oklahoma City. The inductee videos may be viewed at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, also in Oklahoma City.
Other 2010 honorees included Janice Burba Gibson, Pat Grant and Beth Stone. With Blumenthal’s induction, the three women most responsible for the start of women’s collegiate golf in the state of Oklahoma, Ann Pitts Turner from Oklahoma State, and Dale McNamara, from the University of Tulsa, are all in the WOGA Hall of Fame.