TU mourns loss of Dale McNamara

Chris Harmon

ITS Publisher
Aug 15, 2002
Tulsa, OK
TU Mourns Loss of Legendary Golf Coach Dale McNamara

After starting the program in 1974, McNamara’s teams won four national championships

TULSA, Okla. ––
A pioneer in women’s collegiate golf and the most successful coach of any sport in history at The University of Tulsa, legendary coach Dale McNamara passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning succumbing to complications from her second battle with cancer. She was 86 and surrounded by her daughters, Cathy and Melissa, at the time of her death.

McNamara was the head coach of the Tulsa women’s golf program for 26 years (1974-2000) and developed Golden Hurricane golf into a national powerhouse.

“A fierce competitor, a caring coach and a Golden Hurricane through and through, Dale will always be remembered as a formidable force within collegiate women’s golf,” said TU President Brad R. Carson. “It is fitting for Dale to have lived to see the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which gave rise to the program she nurtured, as well as the 40th anniversary of the team’s historic win of two national championships. Our university and our city owe her a great deal of gratitude for putting Tulsa on the map just as women’s golf was gaining ground. She brought an immeasurable amount of acclaim to TU and continued to support our athletics programs for decades. We mourn this tremendous loss and send our sympathies to Dale’s family and friends.”

A native Tulsan, McNamara began her coaching career at TU as a volunteer coach in 1974 and quickly developed the start-up program into the nation’s premier program, winning four national titles and a total of 81 tournament crowns. In just her second season, she led the Hurricane women to a second-place finish at the AIAW National Championship.

“We our heartbroken to learn about the passing of the matriarch of women’s golf at The University of Tulsa, Dale McNamara. Our deepest sympathies go out to her daughters Cathy and Melissa and loved ones during this difficult time. Dale was a trailblazer, beginning the women’s golf program at Tulsa in 1974 and quickly developing it into a national powerhouse. She made a huge impact on TU athletics, the campus, the Tulsa community and in the world of women’s collegiate golf,” said Vice President Director of Athletics Rick Dickson.

“I was fortunate enough to spend significant time with her at the Dale McNamara Invitational earlier this month and she was as effervescent and enthusiastic for TU and the game of golf as she’s ever been,” Dickson added. “Dale’s legacy will live on in Tulsa athletics lore. She will be greatly missed.”

Under McNamara's guidance, the TU women golfers annually ranked among the nation's elite teams. She led Tulsa to 22 national tournament appearances and in addition to her four national titles, placed as the national runner-up five times. Along with the 81 tournament titles, McNamara’s teams placed second 30 times. Three of her teams captured a school single-season record eight tournament wins, including in the 1976-77, 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons.

She coached 28 first or second-team All-Americans and produced 32 professional golfers, including golfing great Nancy Lopez.

“Coach Dale is going to be missed greatly by those that played for her and our current players. She put TU on the map in women’s golf with their many championships and dominant play. She has been a great support to the program in my time as coach at Tulsa. My thoughts are with her two girls, Melissa and Cathy, at this difficult time,” said TU Coach Annie Young.

McNamara led TU to both the NCAA and AIAW titles in 1982, as well as the 1980 AIAW title and the 1988 NCAA championship. Three of her golfers also won national individual crowns (Nancy Lopez, Kathy Baker and Melissa McNamara). The 1988 national tournament was extra special for McNamara as daughter, Melissa, was the NCAA medalist enroute to winning the team title.

In 1985, McNamara was named the WGCA National Coach of the Year, as her team won eight of 13 tournaments and finished second at the NCAA tournament. She was also twice selected as the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1994, 1995) and the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (1998, 1999).

McNamara closed out her coaching career in the 1999-2000 season as the Golden Hurricane women won the Western Athletic Conference Championship and made yet another NCAA Championship appearance. McNamara also served as assistant athletic director during her tenure at Tulsa.

As an amateur player, McNamara won a record seven Oklahoma State Amateur golf titles.

McNamara was active in the Tulsa community for many years, serving the Junior League, Gilcrease Museum and played a key role on the Tulsa Park Board.

In 1988, McNamara won perhaps the highest honor for a coach as she was inducted into the National Collegiate Golf Coaches Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and was a recipient of the Jim Thorpe Association’s “Legends in Sports” award, both in 2003.

McNamara was inducted into the TU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association (WOGA) Hall of Fame in 2006.

McNamara was born on December 14, 1935, at St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa.

A celebration of Dale McNamara’s Life is planned for Monday, November 28, 3 p.m., at Sharp Chapel on the TU campus.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that gifts in Coach Dale McNamara’s honor can be made to The University of Tulsa in support of the women’s golf program. Make payable to: The University of Tulsa, and addressed to University Advancement, The University of Tulsa, 800 South Tucker Drive, Tulsa, OK 74104-3189


• Won four national championships – 1980 AIAW, 1982 AIAW, 1982 NCAA, 1988 NCAA.

• Her 1982 team won the final AIAW title and the first-ever NCAA Championship.

• Her teams also placed as the national runner-up five times – 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1989

• Her recruitment of Nancy Lopez in 1975 helped set the standard for three decades of success at Tulsa.

• Coached 3 national individual champions – Nancy Lopez (1976), Kathy Baker (1982), Melissa McNamara (1988)

• Her 81 career victories still ranks fourth all-time nationally for career coaching wins.

• Her team’s 36-stroke victory in the inaugural NCAA Championship in 1982 still stands at the largest margin of victory for an NCAA Championship.

• She had five seasons with 6+ tournament wins, once with six (1975-76), once with seven (1981-82) and three times with eight wins (1976-77, 1983-84 and 1984-85) in a single season.

• She ranks in a second-place tie all-time in women’s collegiate golf for most seasons with 6+ wins with five, tying with UCLA’s Carrie Forsyth and behind first-place Mark Brooks of Duke (9).

• Had a school record six consecutive wins during the 1976-77 season.

• She was instrumental in bringing the NCAA National Championship to Tulsa and the Tulsa Country Club for the first time in 1999.

• In just seven years competing in a conference, she was named the conference coach of the year four times (1994, 1995, 1998, 1999).

• In her 26-year tenure, Tulsa teams made 22 national championship appearances and finished in the top-10 21 times and among the top-5 13 times.

• She coached 28 first or second-team All-Americans and 32 players went onto play professionally.

• Was inducted into the National Collegiate Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 1988.

• Inducted into the TU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association (WOGA) Hall of Fame in 2006.

Bill Lowery

ITS Recruiting Analyst
Sep 29, 2001
RIP Dear Lady. I had the pleasure of playing a few holes with her while I was at TU. She was a classy lady and a great golfer and coach.

Henry Kendall

I.T.S. Head Coach
Gold Member
Dec 3, 2003
Dale was such a trailblazer, both for TU and for women’s sports in general. An amazing legacy. Prayers with the McNamara family.
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I.T.S. Legend
Gold Member
Mar 9, 2012
Tulsa, OK
This is a great article from the Golf Channel. Hopefully the people of Tulsa realize what a great treasure Coach McNamara was and the incredible pioneer she was for women's collegiate athletics. I met her just once in my time at TU and it was not intended, she just happened to be with Melissa (then the coach at TU) to discuss the housing arrangements for her golfers and when they could move in, etc. Dale happened to be in the office when I went to meet with Melissa.


TU 1978

I.T.S. University President
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2009
May Dale rest in eternal love and peace.

I remember when Nancy Lopez and Terri Streck were on the women’s team in the mid 1970s. They attempted to help me with my golf game, with no success.