January 2021 ~
Mary Lou Mulflur (Grant, 1976) grew up with three brothers and five sisters and a father, Bill, who was a well-known sportswriter and editor for the Oregon Journal and Oregonian.
“If you didn’t talk sports at the dinner table, you weren’t saying much,” she recalls.
Mary Lou was all-PIL in basketball under then-Grant coach Carolyn Fitzwater as a senior (the second year the sport was offered for girls in the PIL). “I was 5-6 and played center,” she says.
But golf was her love and best sport. She led Grant to a state championship in that sport, winning the individual state title twice under coach Dutch Kawasoe.
“The life-changing decision” for Mulflur came when, while fully intending to attend the University of Arizona, her father asked if she would just visit the University of Washington, where a friend of his was the coach. “He didn’t push it, but I went up there by myself and fell in love with the coach, the school and the players,” she says. “I pulled over at the first rest area on the drive back, called my dad and said, ‘I’m going to Washington.’ He couldn’t believe it.”
A few years post-college, she was working at a 9-hole municipal course in Seattle when the UW women’s golf coaching job opened up — and she got it, for a whopping $3,052 the first year.
The four-year UW letter winner now is the Huskies’ highly successful coach of 37 years. UW won the NCAA Division I championship in 2016, and Mulflur was named national coach of the year in 2015 and 2016. Her Washington teams have reached 27 regionals and 14 nationals.
“Your players make you look good,” she says. “And I love them like they’re my own child.”
She plans to continue as the Husky coach “as long as they’ll have me.”
“Not a lot of people after 37 years can say they still love to go to work every day, but it’s like I pinch myself,” she says. “I’ve been around the world doing this. Sometimes, when we’re on some fabulous course in Hawaii, I’ll look at my assistant and say, ‘You know we’re getting paid to do this, right?”