Six-time WOGA Amateur champion Pat Grant lived exemplary life

Patricia Grant, one of the great amateur golfers in Oklahoma history and a 2010 inductee into the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 26.

 Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 4 at Ertel Memorial Chapel in Cortez, Colo. Interment will follow at Cortez Cemetery.

Grant was born March 12, 1921 in Creston, Mont. the daughter of William N. and Ethel (Spellman) Grant. She passed away at her home on Tuesday at the age of 92.

Grant dominated women’s golf, in Oklahoma, in the 1940’s.  Grant won the state high school golf championship as a 13-year old freshman at Cushing, Oklahoma high school.  She would win it three times before graduating in 1938.

Then it was on to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. There was no golf team, but Grant was given a scholarship if she would teach golf to other students.  She graduated in 1942 and was the first female to be inducted into the OBU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Grant won the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship in 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1942.  There was no state championship in 1943, 1944, or 1945 because of World War II.  When play resumed, Grant won again in 1946, beating Hall of Famer, Patti Blanton.  With the victory, Grant became the only person in history to win the WOGA State Amateur Championship five years in a row.  Grant won her sixth state championship in 1949, in Muskogee, when she beat Patti Blanton again.

When World War II broke out, Grant put aside her ambition of becoming a professional golfer, so she could serve her country.  She enlisted in the Army in 1942 and received 23 letters of commendation while in the Army.  After 22 years, Grant retired in 1965 with the rank of Lt. Colonel, one of only 60 women to attain such ranking at the time.

Grant obtained her law degree in 1966 and practiced law for 30 years.  Because of her service to others, she was named the Woman of the Year for 1972 by the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.  Grant retired, for good, in 1995. 

Below is a story from the April-May 2010 issue of Golf Oklahoma preceeding her induction into the Hall of Fame.

WOGA Inducts Unique Class

By Ken MacLeod

Pat Grant is waiting for the mountain air to warm near her home in Cortez, Colo., so she can get back to her favorite pastime.

No, not golf. Those days are over. It’s flying ultralight aircraft that gets her heart racing.
"They are wonderful," Grant said. "So easy to fly. You know how easy it is to keep a kite in the air? It’s just that easy to fly.

"You take off like a grasshopper and land like a butterfly."

It’s likely that Grant is the only 89-year-old belly dancing ultralight pilot in Cortez or just about anywhere. It’s not unusual, however, for this extraordinary woman to be singled out for her accomplishments.

Grant will highlight an impressive group of honorees at the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association Hall of Fame banquet April 25 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Advance tickets are $50. Contact Ann Watkins at aewatkins@brightok.net.

Also being inducted are Janice Gibson of Tulsa, a former LPGA player and now director of the First Tee of Tulsa; Beth Stone, a Muskogee native and LPGA Tour member from 1960-1979 as well as serving as LPGA president in 1978-79, and posthumously Joan Blumenthal, who served as the second women’s golf coach at the University of Oklahoma and was also an LPGA teaching professional and strong advocate for junior golf in Oklahoma.

Grant has been on a remarkable joy ride of a life that not only includes tremendous accomplishments in golf but in the military and as an attorney for 30 years in San Antonio.
Her parents Bill and Ethel Grant ran Cushing Country Club, then a nine-hole sand-greens course, as one of their jobs during the Great Depression. Pat and her brother and sister grew up with the sport.

"We used to run out the back door and play to see who had to do the dishes," Grant said.
Early on, Grant had one club, a putter. She used it all the way around, a training she said helped her greatly with long irons later.

"If you can hit it with a putter, the two-iron seems easy," she said.

Her first experience with the game came on a miniature golf course near a church.
"I teed up that ball and let if fly," she said. "I thought I was going to be buying a stained glass window in the Methodist church."

In 1934 as a freshman, Grant won the girls division of the state high-school tournament and won again in 1936 and 1937. She also competed well on the boys’ team, as Cushing had just one team.

Grant became a popular teammate. Men would invite her to their ladder tournaments and the ladies to their district events in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

"Mom said I could play with them if I didn’t slow them down." Grant said.

In 1939 at Hillcrest Country Club in Bartlesville she won the first of four consecutive WOGA state championships. She won again in 1940 at Indian Springs in Broken Arrow, 1941 at Southern Hills CC in Tulsa and 1942 at Shawnee Elks CC. 

That streak was interrupted by World War II. Grant enlisted in the Women’s Air Corps, where she spent the next 22 years and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, a rank achieved by only 60 of the 10,000 women who served in the WAC.

The Army, Grant said, was "the best travel agent in the world." She served in unique positions around the globe, including as the personal escort officer for Eleanor Roosevelt when she toured Germany and in the adjutant’s office at the Nuremberg war crime trials.

She was also the commanding officer of the WAC detachment at Fort McPherson, Ga., and oversaw the construction of a golf course in Fort McClellan, Ala.

The Army encouraged Grant to continue playing and competing. She returned to Oklahoma to recapture the WOGA state championship in 1946 in Oklahoma City and in 1949 at Muskogee CC. She held her own against Patty Berg, Babe Zaharias and other top golfers of the day in events across the country, including the Titleholders, at that time the equivalent of the U.S. Women’s Open. She could have had a successful professional career of her own, but has no regrets.

"It was a great life," she said of her military career. "To see history being made, whether or not you recognized it at the time, was just an awesome experience."

Grant, who had earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Oklahoma Baptist University in 1942, entered St. Mary’s University law school in 1963, emerging in 1966 with a Juris Doctorate degree, magna cum laude. She practiced civil law in San Antonio for the next 30 years before retiring. She moved to Colorado in 1999.

Although her law practice kept her off the links more than she would have liked, Grant could still play when she had a mind to. She set a women’s course record of 66 at Pecan Valley, the site of the 1968 PGA Championship won by Julius Boros.

Although she stopped playing golf regularly in her 70s, Grant has not stopped enjoying life. She took up belly dancing in her mid-80s to keep in shape and because it looked like fun.

"Have you seen those girls who can just move one muscle at a time?" Grant asked. "That’s something else. I never took it that seriously, but I still do some of the movements to keep limber."

Keeping limber and not taking it too seriously sounds like a good prescription for a long and happy life.

 

 

 

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