By Gustavo Arellano
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By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Something else was intoxicating for a person who had long danced on the edges of mental and physical extremes (among her many experiences, Spencer-Devlin counts parachuting, bungee jumping and fox hunting): It was dangerous.
"You're standing in front of a 2,100-degree oven, and if you don't pay attention, it's pretty easy to burn yourself," she says. "So having to pay attention the entire time was just as exciting for me in glass as it was in golf."
She learned the basics of the craft quickly, apprenticed for two years with Barber and, today, is a proud "glass-hole," a member of the dozen or so Laguna Beach artisans, such as Gavin Heath, whom she rents studio space from, and his longtime associate Jerome Underwood, her mentor in the craft. She exhibits and demonstrates her technique at the Sawdust Festival, as well as displaying her wares at craft-guild shows on Laguna's Main Beach twice a month. She also creates custom pieces, including trophies for LPGA Tour events, and just received her first five-figure commission from a high-rent company looking for some artsy bling for its awards banquet.
Today, the once jet-setting, headline-producing, eccentric personality seems perfectly at ease in a life that finds her living in a one-room apartment next to the studio where she refines and works at her craft. And she wouldn't change a thing.
"If I would have known how to not have my manic and depressed episodes at the time, I wouldn't have had them," she says. "But the fact that I did, I think, is a reason for my happiness today. I know how to offset a possible manic episode and how to offset a possible depressing one. It's simplicity. Jet-setting and all of that is great, but, man, it's hard. It's impossible to set a routine, and for someone who has a mental illness, routine is so imperative.
"Plus, today, I'm imbedded in a passion, one I never thought I'd have," she concludes. "And I couldn't be more content."
Maybe this is just the latest weird chapter of a trippy woman's story who could go off the deep end—high or low—at any point. But spend an afternoon with Spencer-Devlin in her Laguna Beach studio or play nine holes with her, and one conclusion is hard to deny.
"There's no one like Muffin. That's the bottom line," says Kris Tschetter, a former LPGA player and longtime friend. "She is so open and honest and thinks outside the box and has such a real heart. You know how when you meet someone new, and you immediately connect with them? That's how I always felt about Muffin."
"She has always been her own person and walked her own path," says Amy Alcott, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and one of the sport's great ambassadors. "Not having walked in her footsteps, I can only imagine what all her adventures were like. But the ability to reinvent yourself, to find a new passion and to basically shape your own life? That's something that makes me think even more highly of her than when she was on tour, and she has been my friend for so many years.
"She went through so many experiences and crossed over and came out of it smelling like a rose," she concludes. "What's not to admire about that?"
This article appeared in print as "The Greatest Lesbian, Manic-Depressive, Glass-Blowing Golfer of Them All: Muffin Spencer-Devlin made history when she came out while on the LPGA Tour—but that was the easy part."