Des Moines | Inducted 1995 | Category: Amateur Golfer

When Lucile Robinson Mann’s family moved to Des Moines in 1918, she was already in love with a sport. But it was baseball. Her father sponsored a semipro baseball team, and she had plenty of balls and bats to play with. Her dad even made a baseball diamond for her on the vacant lot near the apartment they lived at 28th and Ingersoll.

When the family moved to 4107 Cottage Grove, close to the Waveland and Des Moines Golf and Country Club courses, golf became her passion. Her first tournament was the 1924 Des Moines Women’s City at Waveland. She was 13 years old.

“I remember it so well,” Lucile recalled in 1975. “Frank Anderson was the pro at Waveland, where I played a lot, and he told me one day, “Lucile, it’s about time you quit playing golf with the boys all the time, I’m going to enter you in the City Women’s tournament.’ I said, “What do I have to do?’ And he said, “Just show up with a clean shirt on.’ In those days I wore knickers all the time”.

Lucile qualified for match play, but lost in the first round. But the best was yet to come.

She became a dominant player, both in Iowa and on a national stage. Lucile learned to win at the Des Moines City Tournament, where she collected five trophies between 1926 and 1934. Then she took on the state and won five Iowa Women’s Amateur titles, including four straight from 1931 to 1934.

She also broke through nationally in 1933, winning the Women’s Western Amateur. She beat the great Virginia Van Wie in the final, 6 and 5. Lucile also became the first Iowan to represent her country on a Curtis Cup team, in 1934. She was named to a second Curtis Cup team in 1936, but had to pass because it conflicted with her impending June 1 wedding and 500 invitations had been mailed. Lucile was introduced to her future husband, Russell C. Mann, by future President Ronald Reagan, then working at WHO Radio in Des Moines. Lucile would later attend Reagan’s inauguration in January of 1981.

“The Curtis Cup and the victory over Virginia would have to be my most satisfying competitions,” she said when she was inducted into the Des Moines Sunday Register Sports Hall of Fame in1975.

After their marriage, the Manns moved into an apartment at 2912 Woodland Avenue in Des Moines. And Lucile started preparing for her first post-wedding tournament, the Iowa Women’s Amateur in Okoboji starting July 27. But she never made her tee time. Her husband was transferred by Owens-Illinois Glass Company to Milwaukee, Wis. Lucile’s Iowa golf career was over. But the winning didn’t stop. She went on to win three Wisconsin State Amateurs and five Nebraska State Amateurs. The couple also lived in South Dakota for a time, but it was in a period when no state amateur championships were contested because of World War II.

Mann continued to have national success after leaving Iowa as well. She lost in the finals of the 1940 Women’s Western Open to Babe Didrikson Zaharias. The peak of her success came in 1941, when Lucile won a second Women’s Western Amateur and the Trans-Mississippi title.

The first female recipient of Drake University’s Double-D Award, Lucile operated an artificial-flower business in Omaha before she retired in 1975. Earlier in her life, she repaired precision instruments for the Army during World War II, got her pilot’s license and sold real estate. Mrs. Mann was 91 when she passed away on May 23, 2002.

Career Highlights

  • 5-time Iowa Women’s Amateur Champion – 1929, 31 – 34
  • 2-time Women’s Western Amateur Champion – 1933 & 1941
  • Trans-Mississippi Women’s Amateur – 1941
  • 3-time Wisconsin Women’s Amateur Champion – 1938, 39 & 40
  • 5-time Nebraska Women’s Amateur Champion – 1950 – 53 & 55
  • 5-time Des Moines City Women’s Champion
  • U. S. Curtis Cup Team Member – 1934
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