The University of Alabama announced Wednesday that Hugh Culverhouse Jr. has given $250,000 to endow a women’s golf scholarship at The University of Alabama in honor of his mother, Joy McCann Culverhouse who starred at Alabama in the early 1940s.
“All of us who are associated with the women’s golf program at The University of Alabama are grateful for the generosity shown by Hugh Culverhouse in honoring his mother, Joy McCann Culverhouse, with an endowed scholarship in her name,” Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. “This endowment will ensure that deserving student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level of intercollegiate golf well into the future.
“I am hoping that the publicity surrounding this endowment will serve to honor Joy McCann Culverhouse as the pioneer that she is, not only for The University of Alabama women’s golf, but for women’s amateur golf on the national level.”
The first recipient of the Joy McCann Culverhouse Scholarship is Lakareber Abe of Angleton, Texas. Abe, an accounting major, leads the Crimson Tide in scoring average (72.87) as a true freshman. Her play has vaulted her into consideration for both SEC and National Freshman of the Year honors. She has one top-five finish and has not finished outside of the top 25 in a tournament in her career. Abe leads the team with three rounds in the 60s, seven rounds of par or lower and is tied for the team lead in birdies (45) and eagles (2).
“I am proud of The University of Alabama Golf program,” Culvershouse Jr. said. “And I want the women's team to uphold the tradition of excellence my mother brought to golf."
In an effort to further enhance the development of opportunities for the women’s golf program at Alabama and expand the Crimson Tide’s donor base, Culverhouse Jr. will double his donation to the program (an additional $250,000) if others respond to this gesture by donating gifts of their own totaling $500,000.
Much has changed in women’s collegiate golf since Joy McCann Culverhouse first put The University of Alabama women’s golf program in the national spotlight in 1941. The Crimson Tide fielded its first women’s team for the 1974-75 season and captured the program’s first NCAA Championship in 2012 under the guidance of Hall of Fame Coach Mic Potter.
"I am so very proud to have one of this University's finest alumnae and athletes giving back to a sport that she helped begin during her time at the Capstone,” Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle said. “The generosity shown Joy McCann Culverhouse and her son, Hugh Culverhouse Jr., will be instrumental in the continued success of the Alabama women’s golf program.”
McCann Culverhouse, who was hailed as “Montgomery’s finest links competitor in a generation,” became the youngest golfer to win the Alabama Women’s State Championship in 1941. McCann Culverhouse went on to capture the Alabama State Championship again in 1947 and the won the Florida Amateur title in 1961.
McCann Culverhouse actually got her start as a freshman at LSU, becoming one of the first women granted a partial scholarship for athletics and playing as the ninth player on the Tigers' men’s squad. She transferred back home to The University of Alabama where she continued her golfing career, was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, secretary of the senior class, and a member of Pan Hellenic.
She finished her coursework at The Capstone in 1942, earning her degree in arts and sciences. McCann Culverhouse won a total of 27 championships during her golfing career. In 1997, the Florida House of Representatives passed a house resolution in recognition of her numerous contributions to the advancement of women. McCann Culverhouse will turn 95 on March 6.
The Culverhouse family has a history of generosity to The University. The late Hugh Culverhouse, Sr., was former owner of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
McCann Culverhouse laid the groundwork and blazed a path for the Alabama women’s golf program that resulted in full recognition as a varsity team for the 1974-75 season and opportunities for some of the game’s greats to wear the crimson and white, including the likes of Martha Jones Lang, Peggy Kirsch, Judi Schneider, Kathryn Cusick, Jenny Suh, Kathleen Ekey, Camilla Lennarth, Brooke Pancake, Jennifer Kirby, 2012 Ladies British Amateur Champion Stephanie Meadow and current Crimson Tide golfer and 2013 United States Amateur Champion Emma Talley.
The athletics department at The University of Alabama is self-sufficient. Private support through the Crimson Tide Foundation enables UA athletics to increase its standing, in both athletics and academics, over competing universities beyond what can be accomplished with annual revenue from ticket sales, media rights, and other licensing agreements.