Chattanooga Golf & Country Club
Mary Melissa Manuel
For Mary Melissa Manuel, golf is more than just a pastime – it’s a way of life. As a member of an NCAA Division III Women’s Golf National Championship team, it’s clear she’s an exceptional talent, but this magnanimous sophomore has never forgotten the influential teachers, coaches, and leaders who have helped her along the way.
CS: When did you start playing golf?
MMM: I started when I was in 4th grade – around 9 or 10. I got involved with the Tennessee Golf Association’s junior program and started playing various events around town.
CS: How often do you play?
MMM: When the weather is good, I try to play almost every day. It’s time consuming, but I love it.
CS: What’s your best memory while playing golf?
MMM: Probably the first time I played The Honors Course and had my own caddie. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.
CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?
MMM: I love to play with my teammates, and also with my older brother, Wil. It’s kind of funny – he’s really the reason I started playing golf. He’s only 11 months older than me, so we’ve always enjoyed some friendly competition. When he started playing, I decided I wanted to try it!
CS: Who has had the greatest influence on your game?
MMM: I’d say Ryan Kopet, my first golf coach at GPS, Rob Riddle, the varsity GPS coach, and Todd McKittrick, who was the head pro at Black Creek when I was younger. I took lessons from him for several years before he accepted a job up North. But there are so many people who have been influential to my game.
CS: What’s the best golfing advice you’ve ever received?
MMM: Todd told me that when you’re finishing your follow through, finish like a rockstar. My current coach here at Rhodes, coach Mike Clary, told me that you could only cry at weddings and funerals – not the golf course.
CS: What’s the strongest part of your game?
MMM: My drives and bunker shots. I’ve always enjoyed watching the ball go really far, so I just enjoy hitting my driver, and I have pretty good control over it. I’ve also been told ‘if you can learn to love to hit out of a bunker, you’ll be ahead of everyone else,’ so I’ve made myself practice in the sand more than usual over the years. Now when I play in tournaments, I can feel at ease when I’m hitting out of the sand.
CS: What’s your biggest golf accomplishment?
MMM: Being a member of an NCAA national championship women’s golf team in 2017.
Photo by Danielle Donze