Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.
Golf, 1996. Few out lesbian athletes have experienced more professional success than Muffin Spencer-Devlin. She was a three-time tournament winner on the LPGA Tour in the mid-to-late '80s. She is in the top 100 on the Tour's all-time money list (at just over $1 million in winnings). Her career spanned from 1979-2000, and she has five top-25 finishes at Major championships on the Tour.
The Sports Illustrated article that defined her coming out, dated March 18, 1996, was a revelation. LPGA commissioner Jim Ritts spoke about embracing a lesbian on the Tour like you'd expect someone now, 15 years later, to do so:
I don't think I'm naive, but I don't have any concerns about this. I know there are still individuals who have problems with diversity, but we've come so far as a society that I don't see this as a topic that really moves people.
Spencer-Devlin told SI she was coming out for personal reasons, not to become the "mouthpiece" for lesbian athletes. She has since lived openly, proudly, but quietly as a ground-breaking lesbian in the world of sports.
She has retired from golf and now lives in Laguna, Calif., where she has taken up glass-blowing. Her two passions came together when she was asked to design the Kia Classic Trophy; You can watch a fascinating video of Spencer-Devlin producing the trophy below.
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