Breaking 'grass ceiling' came naturally for Betty Kaufmann

Jean Harris


Breaking 'grass ceiling' came naturally for Betty Kaufmann

Betty Kaufmann's dedication to golf and growing the game is second to none. We are both members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association and spent our early years evaluating prospective teachers. She is a dear friend of mine and a unique individual.

Betty recently retired after coaching 19 seasons at DePaul University in Chicago, a member of the very competitive Big East Conference. What was so impressive about that tenure is that Betty coached the men's golf team.

Betty, who with her husband has a retirement home on Callawassie Island, was instrumental in bringing the recent Big East Conference Championship to the award-winning 27-hole Tom Fazio course there.

Thanks in part to her efforts, the championship will be returning to the Lowcountry for the next five years.

When Betty took over the DePaul program, the players weren't going to class on a regular basis and her goal was to change the culture. She started looking for the best student athlete.

"I told parents that when their sons come to DePaul we will give them a well-rounded experience," she said. "We would support them for four years and we expected their dedication to our program. We gave them tutors in every class: life skills, strength and conditioning, nutrition and psychology. Each player had to do an internship and get out in the real world."

The strategy paid off for Betty's teams, who won the Division One Academic National Championship four times.

Betty recruited overseas a couple times each year, visiting players from Germany, Sweden, England and Ireland. She developed a support system and soon players and coaches were calling her.

Being a mother of four children gave her credibility as a coach and made her relatable as a parent. Three of Betty's children are graduates of DePaul and one graduated from University of Dayton, her alma mater.

As an athlete in college, Betty stayed busy playing three sports, earning a spot in the Dayton Hall of Fame. "I grew up playing against guys and always felt comfortable competing against males," she said. This competitive spirit helped her develop a mutual respect with the players on her team.

Now that Betty is retired, she will be spending more time in the Lowcountry. "I want to use my knowledge of college sports and help kids know what is needed to be recruited," she said. "Academics is the key."

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris @gmail.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com