A Little Birdie Told Me

By Lucy Morris
Photography by Lanewood Studio

For these women, winning championships is par for the course. But equally as impressive is their championing of women’s golf in Chattanooga. In addition to honing their skills on the links, they are passionate about the friendships they’ve formed, the experiences they’ve shared, and the memories they continue to make.
While too many to feature in one story, what follows are seven ladies who have been crowned Club Champions. They share their greatest influences, their biggest accomplishments, and their pride for the local women’s golf community.


The Lookout Mountain Club

Carolyn Doster


As a six-time ladies club champion, Carolyn Doster knows a thing or two about golf. Her wins have afforded her the opportunity to play at different clubs across the U.S., but to her, scores aren’t nearly as important as having fun and making memories.


CS: When did you start playing golf?

CD: I started playing with my dad on Sundays when I was little. He cut off a 7 iron for me, and that’s what I played with. Dad wasn’t a great golfer, but he really enjoyed it. When he passed away, I played with his old hickory stick putter for a while until my kids bought me a new one for Christmas.

CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?

CD: I enjoy playing with the Chattanooga Women’s Golf Association when I get the opportunity. I have a couple of girlfriends I play with too. I also play a lot with my husband, Stokely.

CS: What’s your favorite course?

CD: I love playing on Lookout. I’m used to playing on a mountain course. The scenery is beautiful, and we don’t need tee times. It’s easy to get on and play.

CS: What’s the best golfing advice you’ve ever received?

CD: To shorten my back swing.

CS: Have you ever hit a hole-in-one?

CD: I have, at Highlands Country Club. I was
with three of my girlfriends so we celebrated.

CS: What’s your favorite thing about your club?

CD: The staff is wonderful, and they try to create events that make it easy for people to join. Events where you don’t have to be a good player, they’re just about having fun. We have a Witches Scramble each year for Halloween. One year my team dressed up as Flo from Progressive, and once we went as Spark’s Sharks, in honor of Betty “Spark” Probasco.

CS: What can you say about women’s golf in Chattanooga?

CD: The women that play are friendly and active women who really enjoy the camaraderie. You can play for years, and you play with women of all different ages. You meet a lot of people that you would not have otherwise met from all across the city.

I’d like to see even more women playing golf. I try to encourage parents to get their daughters involved in the sport and get them to take lessons to learn the swing while they’re young. It makes it a lot easier to pick up later in life, and there will be all sorts of events they’ll be able to participate in.


Black Creek Club

Meg Buchanan


At 10, Meg Buchanan’s father would take her for walks around the golf course after work, teaching her the ins and outs of the game. As the youngest of six, she soaked up all the knowledge she could – the first step in making her the player she is today. 

CS: Who has had the greatest influence on your game?

MB: I’d have to say my father. He was a lefty, but he played golf and did many things right handed. I’m the same way.

CS: How often do you play?

MB: In the warmer months, I usually play once during the week and two or three times on the weekend.

CS: What’s your favorite course?

MB: Locally, it would have to be Black Creek. My favorite course I ever played would be Sandhills in Nebraska. About 20 years ago, I saw a story on the CBS Sunday Morning show about the then-new course. I remember seeing the gentleman who was being interviewed walking the course with his yellow lab at his side. That made me really want to play the course someday. Last year I was fortunate enough to play it. It was really a dream come true. 

CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?

MB: I love playing with the ladies at Black Creek, and with the ladies in the Chattanooga Women’s Golf Association. I always enjoy playing with my husband too – we like to go out and walk 18 holes whenever we can.

CS: What’s the strongest part of your game?

MB: Hitting my drives – I don’t hit it very long but I can usually hit it straight with my driver, and I can usually keep the ball in the fairway.

CS: How do you clear your mind before a challenging shot?

MB: I try to look at the shot from a few different angles, visualize what I need to do, then take a deep breath, exhale, and focus on a nice slow, smooth swing.

CS: What’s your biggest golf accomplishment?

MB: It was an endurance thing: In 2016, my husband and I played golf in Scotland – I survived walking 17 rounds in 11 days.

CS: What can you say about women’s golf in Chattanooga?

MB: Chattanooga is a rich city for women’s golf – we have such a great community of excellent golfers. When I was growing up, ladies didn’t play on Saturday mornings. One thing I love about Black Creek is we have standing ladies’ tee times early on Saturday mornings.


Windstone Golf Club

Barb Monaghan


Golf is a family affair for Barb Monaghan, Windstone’s 2017 ladies champion. After taking up the sport at age 27 on her husband’s recommendation, she developed a passion for the game that she passed along to her son, years later. Today, the three enjoy playing a round together any time they can.

CS: What’s your best memory while playing golf?

BM: When we were younger, my husband and I would take golfing vacations with family and friends. We would all meet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and play the local courses there. We did that for probably 10-12 years. Each year more and more people would join. We’d have so many people, we’d just set up our own tournaments with prizes!

CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?

BM: I always like playing with my husband, Gary, and my son, Sean. He played junior golf and high school golf and still plays. It gets competitive when we all get together!

CS: What’s your favorite course?

BM: Windstone is my favorite course because I play there so much. The members and the staff are really nice and welcoming, and the course is always in great shape.

CS: Who has had the greatest influence on your game?

BM: Definitely my husband. He gets me out there even when it’s 40 degrees, wet, and cart path only.

CS: What’s the best round you have ever played?

BM: I’ve shot 70 a couple times and would
really love to break 70 one day.

CS: What’s your biggest golf accomplishment?

BM: Raising a son that loves the game of golf, so that we can spend time together doing something we both enjoy. Whenever we get together, we play golf for sure.

CS: Tell me a bit about the club championship.

BM: This was my third year winning the championship. Each year it gets more competitive because more women are playing, and they’re getting better. So it’s become a lot more fun and challenging! It’s nice to have that competition.

CS: What can you say about women’s golf in Chattanooga?

BM: When I retired here, I joined the Chattanooga Women’s Golf Association. We play at a different course every Tuesday morning. It’s always a fun play day, and we have friendly competition. I’ve found that it’s a great way to meet women who enjoy the game, and you get to play at great courses in the area.


Council Fire Golf Club

Darlene Werhnyak


After age and injury sidelined her from continuing her competitive softball career, Darlene Werhnyak took up golf at age 36. Today, this former school teacher is spending her retirement hitting the links and serving on the Tennessee Golf Association Women’s Competition Committee.

CS: How often do you play?

DW: I average every other day year-round. During the warmer months, I play just about every day.

CS: What’s your best memory while playing golf?

DW: My best memory, and the thing I’m proudest of, would be winning the 2008 Georgia Senior Women’s Amateur. A close second would be qualifying and playing in four USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championships.

CS: What’s your favorite course?

DW: The Sea Island Seaside Course would be one of my all-time favorites. Being down by the water with the nice warm breeze … that whole club is just so classy and elegant. It’s top of the line.

CS: Who has had the greatest influence on your game?

DW: There was an older lady in Atlanta, where I previously lived, that took me under her wing and got me involved in tournaments when I was first getting started. She taught me a lot and was probably one of the biggest influences on my game.

CS: What’s the best golfing advice you’ve ever received?

DW: In golf, we’re all going to miss shots. You just need to forget about it and worry about the next shot.

CS: What’s the strongest part of your game?

DW: I’m good at holding my composure and being steady – the mental part. I don’t have a pretty swing, but if you look at MLB and watch the hitters, they all have different stances and swings. You just need to do what works for you and contact the ball squarely.

CS: How do you clear your mind before a challenging shot?

DW: I like to use the analogy of taking an eraser and wiping all the chalk off the chalkboard. Have nothing in your mind. Let it become automatic and just do what you’ve practiced on the range. Sometimes you can think too much, and that can make you tense, which will really mess you up.

CS: What can you say about women’s golf in Chattanooga?

DW: In Atlanta, we traveled to other clubs once a month. Here, I play with the Chattanooga Women’s Golf Association, and we’re playing at a different club every week. Not only are we playing different courses, but we’re also meeting new people and making new friends. It’s awesome!


Signal Mountain Golf & Country Club

Taylor Gardner


This high school senior, who picked up the game of golf thanks to her grandfather, plays for her school’s championship-winning team. But her career doesn’t end there – she recently committed to play for Presbyterian College in South Carolina.

CS: When did you start playing golf?

TG: My first lesson was in 5th grade. My grandfather took me – he loves golf. He has four grandkids, but none of the others played, so he wanted me to try it out. I was instantly hooked!

CS: How often do you play?

TG: School season is usually May to October, so I’m playing a round every day then. After the school season, I still try to stick with it all year-round, so I don’t get too rusty.

CS: What’s your best memory while playing golf?

TG: I always have good memories playing with my school team. This one specific time my freshman year, I was playing with a few of my teammates. I jokingly said, ‘If I make this putt, we’ll win state this year.’ Well, I made the 25-foot putt that day, and we ended up winning state that year!

CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?

TG: I enjoy playing with my school team, and my younger sister, who will be on the team next year. I also enjoy playing with the ladies at the club over the summer. They’ve all been playing a while, so they can give me good advice.

CS: What’s your favorite course?

TG: Probably my all-time favorite course is Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. It fits my game well, and it has a mixture of water, bunkers, hills – a little bit of everything.

CS: What’s the best round you have ever played?

TG: Not necessarily my best scoring round, but I’m proud of my round at state this year. I tried to stay confident the whole time. A lot of people came out to watch, and I felt super confident with my swing and putt.

CS: What’s the strongest part of your game?

TG: I’d say my short game is the strongest part. Usually whenever I have to rely on putting or chipping, I don’t have to worry about it because I’m confident with that part of my game.

CS: What’s your biggest golf accomplishment?

TG: Probably winning the state championship my freshman and senior years as a team. I also came in second individually this year!


Cleveland Country Club

Maggie Scott


The list of Maggie Scott’s golf accolades is nearly as long as her drive off the tee. As an inductee into both the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame, and a winner of the Betty Probasco Award, this 35-time club champion has a deep love for the sport.

CS: How often do you play?

MS: Any day that ends in “Y”. I probably average five days a week during the summer. We recently bought a cart cover and heater, so perhaps we can play more in the winter months. My husband and I met on the golf course and enjoy playing together as often as possible.

CS: What’s your best memory while playing golf?

MS: I have a lot of them. It’s the people you meet and the friends you make that you wouldn’t run into any other way except on the course.

CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?

MS: I have been honored to play with wonderful people that I have met through TGA and USGA events. I have a regular Saturday foursome at Cleveland Country Club. We compete for quarters and have great fun. My most competitive group would be with my husband and son. We compete for bragging rights.

CS: What’s the best round you have ever played?

MS: I have luckily had several great rounds. The most recent would be when I shot my age this summer. Needless to say the 67 card will be kept!

CS: What’s the best golfing advice you’ve ever received?

MS: You’ve got to remain positive. You can’t be thinking about the places you don’t want your ball to go. Instead, you need to visualize where you want it to go. If you don’t think you can, you can’t. You’ve got to believe in yourself and have confidence.

CS: How do you clear your mind before a challenging shot?

MS: Keeping your same routine is the real key. I don’t change anything. I generally take one practice swing. And remember you’re playing for fun!

CS: Have you ever hit a hole-in-one?

MS: I have been lucky enough to have six. My last one was last January. I have had a hole-in-one on every par three at Cleveland except one. My husband, his father, my son, my father, and I have all had a hole-in-one on number 9 at Cleveland Country Club.

CS: What can you say about women’s golf in Chattanooga?

MS: In Chattanooga, there are so many great players and lots of fun competition. It offers a lot to a lot of women at all different levels.


Chattanooga Golf & Country Club

Mary Melissa Manuel


For Mary Melissa Manuel, golf is more than just a pastime – it’s a way of life. As a member of an NCAA Division III Women’s Golf National Championship team, it’s clear she’s an exceptional talent, but this magnanimous sophomore has never forgotten the influential teachers, coaches, and leaders who have helped her along the way.

CS: When did you start playing golf?

MMM: I started when I was in 4th grade – around 9 or 10. I got involved with the Tennessee Golf Association’s junior program and started playing various events around town.

CS: How often do you play?

MMM: When the weather is good, I try to play almost every day. It’s time consuming, but I love it.

CS: What’s your best memory while playing golf?

MMM: Probably the first time I played The Honors Course and had my own caddie. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

CS: Who do you enjoy playing with?

MMM: I love to play with my teammates, and also with my older brother, Wil. It’s kind of funny – he’s really the reason I started playing golf. He’s only 11 months older than me, so we’ve always enjoyed some friendly competition. When he started playing, I decided I wanted to try it!

CS: Who has had the greatest influence on your game?

MMM: I’d say Ryan Kopet, my first golf coach at GPS,  Rob Riddle, the varsity GPS coach, and Todd McKittrick, who was the head pro at Black Creek when I was younger. I took lessons from him for several years before he accepted a job up North. But there are so many people who have been influential to my game.

CS: What’s the best golfing advice you’ve ever received?

MMM: Todd told me that when you’re finishing your follow through, finish like a rockstar. My current coach here at Rhodes, coach Mike Clary, told me that you could only cry at weddings and funerals – not the golf course.

CS: What’s the strongest part of your game?

MMM: My drives and bunker shots. I’ve always enjoyed watching the ball go really far, so I just enjoy hitting my driver, and I have pretty good control over it. I’ve also been told ‘if you can learn to love to hit out of a bunker, you’ll be ahead of everyone else,’ so I’ve made myself practice in the sand more than usual over the years. Now when I play in tournaments, I can feel at ease when I’m hitting out of the sand.

CS: What’s your biggest golf accomplishment?

MMM: Being a member of an NCAA national championship women’s golf team in 2017.


Photo by Danielle Donze

Shares