April 25, 2011
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Having just completed her 25th year as head coach of the Southern Illinois University women's golf team, Diane Daugherty announced her retirement on Monday. The five-time conference Coach of the Year, who two years ago was named the Missouri Valley Conference's All-Centennial women's golf coach, leaves behind a legacy of successful teams and people.
"I've looked at this as much more than just coaching golf," she explained. "I'm mentoring young ladies, who I treat as daughters, and my sport just happens to be golf."
Daugherty led the Salukis to MVC championships in 1998, 2000 and 2007, and also won league titles in 1988 and 1990 under the Gateway Conference banner. The program has made giant strides in the last 25 years, due largely to Daugherty's ability to build community support for her team. Her fundraising efforts enabled the program build its own locker room at its home course in Carbondale -- Hickory Ridge Golf Club -- and last year the team christened a new indoor hitting facility that allows players to practice year-round.
"When I came here, we literally had spray-painted golf bags and light blue shirts," she said. "I knew fundraising was going to be important if I was ever going to make the team successful. I don't do anything unless I do it 100 percent. Our community support has just been tremendous. Now, we're able to afford things like rain suits, and afford nice trips."
Daugherty has tutored some of the best golfers in school history, including league champions Tracey Pace (1993), Jamie Smith (1998) and Kelly Gerlach (2004). She takes even more pride, though, in the manner of her players' accomplishments.
"When they get here, I tell them the pyramid we have in our program is God, family, school, then golf," she said. "I don't think there's very many Division I coaches who put their sport fourth in the pyramid of life."
"Diane's career represents everything that is right about college athletics and the relationship that exists between a coach and her student-athletes," said Moccia. "She's taught hundreds of young women not just how to play golf, but how to lead successful lives." Daugherty has no intention of slowing down upon retirement. As a part-time touring professional, she won the LPGA Senior Division Midwest title in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and plans to stay active in both golf and the southern Illinois community.
"I'm still young -- I'm 55 -- and there are a lot of things I still want to do," she said. "I want to play professional golf. The Legends Tour, all of their tournaments are in the spring and fall, so I've never been able to play in them because we're right in the middle of our season. I'm also very involved with the animal shelter and want to be able to do more there."
Early in her playing career, the Centralia, Mo., native won the 1981 Missouri State Amateur tournament and was a top-10 money winner on the Futures Tour, but her professional career was cut short by knee problems. She became an instructor in LPGA Educational Programs and has also been listed among the Top-50 teachers for women's golf.
"I set so many goals when I came here," Daugherty recalled. "Small goals like buying rain suits for the kids.Of course you want to win more championships, but a lot of the goals I've set for the program, I've accomplished."