‘Simply amazing’: Mary Legg Capouch elevates game in Louisiana and beyond

By Jim Nugent | May 3, 2024

It has been said, frequently, that golf is a game for a lifetime. Louisiana’s Mary Legg Capouch is a shining personification of that observation.

Capouch grew up in Champaign, Illinois, and was introduced to the game by her parents at age 10. She fell in love with golf, to the exclusion of all other childhood pursuits. She enrolled in the University of Illinois in her hometown, long before Title IX; there was no women’s golf team in the mid-1960s. Most of her golf at that time consisted of local events in central Illinois. The highlight: winning the 1966 Champaign Country Club women’s championship in a 37-hole thriller after her freshman year.

Upon graduating with a degree in communications, she took a job at Mademoiselle magazine, part of the fabled Condé Nast publishing company. She did not play a lot of golf in New York City, but she did meet her future husband, Jay, on a blind date in 1971, and they moved to New Orleans four years later. The move prompted Capouch to return to the game in 1978.

Since then, Capouch has given much of her life in service to golf, nationally as well as in Louisiana.

“I was better at volunteering than playing. But both have given me great joy.”

— Mary Capouch

In 1984, Capouch was nominated to the USGA Women’s Committee, on which she served as chair in 1999 and 2000. She also chaired USGA committees for the Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship (1991-1994) and Women’s International Team selection and served on the association’s Communications Committee. Capouch has officiated at more than 50 USGA tournaments, including local and regional qualifiers, plus at other amateur events. In 2000, she served as the U.S. delegate to the Women’s World Amateur Golf Council in Berlin, Germany. In 2002, she captained the American squad at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Closer to home, Capouch has served on the Louisiana Golf Association’s Board of Directors since 2019, the same year the Louisiana Women’s Golf Association and the LGA merged. Capouch proved to be instrumental in that unification, helping ensure a seamless transition.

Among her numerous accolades for service to the game: the LGA’s Distinguished Service Award (2005), USGA Ike Grainger Award for a lifetime service to the USGA and golf (2009), and the Gulf States PGA Barbato-Thomas Award for Service to Golf (2018).

Kendra Graham, a former USGA Executive Committee member and accomplished rules official, said Capouch is “a volunteer extraordinaire.”

“She has led a life in service to the game,” Graham said. “She is simply amazing.”

Capouch could play more than a little, as well. She qualified for the inaugural U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, in 1987 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and returned to the 25-and-older national event in 1988 at Amelia Island in Florida. Typical of Capouch: When she missed the cut at Southern Hills, she took a turn as a rules official.

She has won an amazing 23 women’s championships at three New Orleans-area clubs during the past four decades, and she has made nine appearances in team competitions representing the LWGA.

Asked which she enjoyed more, playing or volunteering, she said: “I was better at volunteering than playing. But both have given me great joy. I love the friends I have made through both sides.”

Capouch’s “give back” gene was passed down to her son, Taylor. He serves as the executive director of the Kelly Gibson Foundation in Louisiana. Gibson is a former PGA Tour player who, through this foundation, supports initiatives for first responders, the military and youth sports in metropolitan New Orleans.

Capouch is quite proud of her only son, who has been a part of her golf life for most of his life.

“We have shared many wonderful golf experiences together, particularly via my USGA involvement,” she said. “He was 7½ years old for his first Curtis Cup Match, in 1990 at Somerset Hills (in New Jersey), and attended many matches between 1990 and 2016, not to mention U.S. Women’s Opens. He once shagged balls for Patty Berg at her clinic at the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor.”

Last year, Capouch became the first female president of the Louisiana Golf Association. This is rarified air for any woman in America and serves as a testament to her notion of giving back.

“I am very proud to have the opportunity to serve Louisiana golf,” she said upon accepting the reins in March 2023.

Said Logan Ray, executive director of the Louisiana Golf Association: “Mary embodies all that we love about the spirit of the game. She has helped advance golf in Louisiana for decades and is well respected both in our state and abroad. Her passion and generosity are unrivaled when it comes to promoting golf, and we are blessed to have her leadership.”

Elite amateur. Volunteer extraordinaire. That’s Mary Capouch. The game is lucky to have her.

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