‘She lived life to the fullest.’ Former UK women’s golf coach Bettie Lou Evans dies.

Some people know how to get the most out of life.

Bettie Lou Evans was one of those people.

“She lived life to the fullest,” University of Kentucky women’s golf coach Golda Borst said Wednesday.

Evans, the former longtime UK women’s golf coach, died Tuesday. A graduate of Transylvania, Evans served as Kentucky’s coach from 1979 to 2001 before becoming director of golf operations for the men’s and women’s programs, a post she held for 17 years.

Evans coached UK to 14 postseason appearances, including five trips to the NCAA Championships, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in 1986. She coached two All-Americans, six first-team All-SEC players and four second-team All-SEC players. She was named SEC Women’s Golf Coach of the Year in 1992, and was inducted into the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997 and the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021.

“In addition to loving the game, she loved teaching and caring for the young people on her teams,” UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said Tuesday. “That was in great evidence two years ago, when she was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, and so many of her former players came out to support and congratulate her.”

“Women’s golf in Kentucky is synonymous with Bettie Lou,” Borst said. “We wouldn’t be where are if it wasn’t for her.”

While Evans will certainly be remembered for women’s golf, she’ll be remembered as much if not more for her personality, one Borst described as being, “a personality of joy and positivity and just an enthusiasm for life.”

Plus a willingness to help.

“I came in 2010 and she just welcomed me with open arms,” said the coach. “She always just exuded support. She was great in welcoming me into the community, getting me connected with other women in the area, and with golf courses around town. She knew everybody. She knew who to call, when to call. She wasn’t just a former coach, she was a great friend and a confidant.”

The Bettie Lou Evans Invitational was named in honor of the former UK women’s golf coach, center, who died Tuesday.
The Bettie Lou Evans Invitational was named in honor of the former UK women’s golf coach, center, who died Tuesday.

Oh, Bettie Lou knew everybody.

“She was a friend and confidant to all of us,” said Quaintance Clark, who for years worked with Evans in the UK Athletics department. “And her zest for life was contagious.”

“She had this spirit and this way of being that brought life to others,” said Jenny King, UK’s team captain in 2000 who is now the head women’s coach at Akron. “There was never a dull moment and because of that, that’s why I feel like she will always be with us. . . She loved all of her girls. She had extreme passion for all things UK. Bettie Lou was one-of-a-kind and will be missed by all of us.”

It wasn’t just UK people, either.

“We were coaches at the same time in the same state,” Nancy Quarcelino, former women’s golf coach at Western Kentucky University, posted Wednesday on Facebook. “She was the best friend I could have to help me learn the ropes as a young college golf coach.”

“It was competitive but it was also about enjoying life through that,” Borst said. “One of her best friends was Dot Gunnells at North Carolina. Those two were fierce rivals, but they were the best of friends. They would go to each other’s tournaments. And there were so many of those.”

It’s why so many of her coaching friends turn out every year for the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational. It’s why so many of her former players return for reunions. And in these past few weeks, it’s why former players came to help take care of Evans while she was sick.

“I went to the hospital last week and she just loved hearing about the golf team,” Borst said. “Loved hearing about what was going on in the coaching community. ‘How are the girls doing? What’s going on?’

“I talk about her all the time because, I don’t think there’s a better way to say it, she was Kentucky women’s golf in so many ways. It’s hard to find people with a program that have had that big of an impact for so many years. I just want to honor that the best I can.”

Obituary for Bettie Lou Evans

Former University of Kentucky golf coach Bettie Lou Evans with UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart at the UK Athletics Hall of Fame inductions in 2021.
Former University of Kentucky golf coach Bettie Lou Evans with UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart at the UK Athletics Hall of Fame inductions in 2021.

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