Remembering the legacy of MSU women’s golf coach Mary Fossum

Fossum paved the way for female golfers at Michigan State through her coaching and her play.
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 5:44 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University is mourning the loss of golf legend Mary Fossum. She was a pioneer at the school and in the sport.

“Anyone who knew Mary understood that as soon as you talked to her for one or two minutes, it was like she made you feel like you were part of her family,” said Michigan State head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll.

Fossum experienced a lot of success in her 93 years not just on the golf course, but in the hearts of the MSU community.

“I think the thing that she helped solidify for me and what I was looking for in a college golf program was just that sense of family,” said former MSU golfer Emily Glaser, who is now the head coach at the University of Florida. “I’m pretty sure everyone you talk to that’s associated with Michigan State golf is going to mention that.”

Fossum was Michigan State’s first women’s golf coach. She ran the program from 1973 until her retirement in 1997. Her husband Bruce worked alongside her as the men’s coach for 25 seasons.

“I think it’s just incredibly unique. I don’t know that there’s been too many other situations like that,” said Glaser. “That really gave that sense of family and sense of community, having both of them there.”

The Spartans won five straight Big Ten titles from 1974-78, and played in the 1982 and 1984 NCAA championships.

However, her coaching success is only one facet of her life.

She fought for Title IX when it went into effect and her personal playing career was astonishing. She was one of the only women to beat Babe Didrikson Zaharias back in 1946.

“I’ve cried so much, but so much of it is just tears of joy for having the opportunity to know Mary and see what she really did and just know what a huge effect that she had on so many people’s lives,” said Slobodnik-Stoll.

Slobodnik-Stoll continues to share Fossum’s legacy every year with her team.

“All my players coming in starting in 2021 will never have an opportunity to meet her,” said Slobodnik-Stoll. “I have the opportunity to share with them what an awesome person she was.”

Funeral arrangements haven’t been made yet.

Michigan State’s athletic department tells us plans are on hold because of the pandemic.

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