Remembering Martha Harlan | December 9, 1932 – November 30, 2023

January 12, 2024 | Mary Capouch

Anyone who has played women’s golf in Louisiana will never forget Martha Harlan, who passed away in Covington, Louisiana, November 30, 2023, a week short of her 91st birthday.  Her name is synonymous with outstanding golf in the New Orleans metro area and the entire state of Louisiana. 

Martha’s victories were many and spanned 39 years. Her crowning achievement was in 1981 winning the Louisiana Women’s State Golf Association (then LWSGA) Amateur Championship at East Ridge Country Club, Shreveport.  Her other state titles were victories the first four years of the Louisiana Women’s Golf Association (LWGA) Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, 1992 – 1995.

A six-time New Orleans Women’s Golf Association Champion (NOWGA), she was victorious in 1973 – 1975, 1982, 1984, and 1987.  While a Timberlane Country Club member, she was a six-time Champion (1970, 1972-1976).  As a member at New Orleans Country Club, she won the Ladies’ Championship in 1992, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2009.  During summers in North Carolina, she reigned as Blowing Rock Country Club Champion in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2009.

In 2017, the Ladies Country Club Golf Association (LCCGA-New Orleans metro area) honored her superlative record and her 15 LCCGA Championship titles in 1972-1982, 1986-1987, 1991 and 1993, establishing the Martha Harlan Medalist Trophy now presented to the player with the lowest score on the first day of the two-day LCCGA Stroke Play Championship. 

Martha’s talent and success has been compared to other New Orleans women amateur golf greats, including Merryl Israel Aron, Evelyn Monsted, and Jackie Higgins.  Her terrific short game was well known, as was her keen competitive reputation.  When she strode to the first tee to play a match, many an opponent thought they might as well be two down on the first tee!  Of course, her sense of humor was always intact. One day I was on the first tee with Martha and a couple of friends. She opted to play first. With a sneaky grin on her face, Martha took a swing at the ball…and it exploded!  We were in hysterics! She was full of surprises, always a fierce competitor, but also great fun during and after a round of golf.

Along with her many birdies, pars, and victories, it was obvious Martha had a great love of and respect for the game, which she maintained after retiring from playing.  She will be missed, but certainly never forgotten by those of us who knew her and shared her passion for our favorite sport.

Martha is survived by her son Michael, daughter Debbie, seven grandchildren, and 27 great grandchildren!