Last week Carol Mann, an LPGA star in the '60s and '70s and winner of 38 tournaments worldwide, let loose a rant on her Facebook page, criticizing the proposed construction of an Islamic cultural center near where the World Trade Center towers were located before the 9/11 attacks. "It's too much of a flagrant demonstration of our own 'tolerance' out of control," Mann wrote. "The United States is a Christian country, founded on Christian principles and with an expectation of Christian behavior. Let the Muslims erect their worship centers in other countries that are not Christian. Go away—soon!" (By week's end Mann, who couldn't be reached for comment, was allowing only her Facebook friends to see her postings.)
Mann, who lives in The Woodlands, the massive Houston golf development, has been a prominent supporter of women's golf for decades and, at times, an outspoken one. In 2008 Mann reportedly supported a plan by then LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens to require all LPGA players to know English. The idea died a quick and painful death.
The World Golf Hall of Fame has three "ambassadors": Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw ... and Mann. When casual golfers chatted last week—in person, on websites, on Twitter—there was a deep divide over Mann's comments. Many were offended by her words, yet others supported her view. Some were just left scratching their heads. Her gig is not likely in jeopardy. The World Golf Hall of Fame's chief operating officer, Jack Peter, said last week, "It's Carol's personal website, so we're not going to comment."
At the same time, professional golf has never looked more worldly. On the LPGA and PGA tours this year, winning golfers have come from the United States, England, Germany, Northern Ireland, Korea and Japan. Oh, and India, with its 150 million Muslims.