The ‘It Woman’ of golf who broke down limitations

Golf may very well be an unforgiving sport for girls, particularly at a time when girls’s rights had been severely restricted within the US.

Nonetheless, Hollins grew to become one of many main figures within the sport throughout the first half of the final century, along with her fingerprints throughout just a few of essentially the most well-known programs in America.

From star novice golfer to key cog within the creation of essentially the most well-known course on the planet, her admission into the World Golf Corridor of Fame in 2022 was arguably a very long time coming.

Emily Chorba, Pasatiempo board member and historian — one of many iconic programs Hollins developed and based — believes she was way more than only a golf course developer.

“I feel she grew to become the It Woman,” Chorba advised CNN Sport. “However she was additionally a social influencer approach earlier than the social media instruments of at present.

“And he or she was doing it within the days [of] letter writing, telegraphs. She simply was a giant influencer and apparently very enjoyable to be round. She was a social influencer earlier than it actually was a time period.”

Taking part in

Born in 1892, cash wasn’t a difficulty for Hollins and her household.

Her father, H.B. Hollins, labored on Wall Avenue, proudly owning a brokerage agency and was a enterprise affiliate of William Ok. Vanderbilt and J. P. Morgan.

Rising up on her household property in Lengthy Island, Hollins was uncovered to varied completely different sports activities.

She was a proficient horse rider and tried her hand at many alternative issues, together with swimming, tennis, race automobile driving and golf. Chorba describes her as being a “tomboy” rising up with 4 brothers.

In response to David Owen — creator of “The Making of the Masters: Clifford Roberts, Augusta Nationwide, and Golf’s Most Prestigious Match” — Hollins was the one lady within the US with a male polo handicap.

Though her father’s property went bankrupt in 1913, it did not seem to hinder Hollins’ burgeoning golf taking part in profession.

In the identical yr, she completed runner-up on the U.S. Ladies’s Novice. Eight years later, she lastly received the celebrated match. On the time, it was the largest match in girls’s golf.

She would later go on to captain the first-ever US staff on the Curtis Cup in 1932 — the biennial match which sees groups from the US and Nice Britain & Eire go head-to-head.

However an expertise in 1922 — mixed along with her dedication in direction of combating for girls’s rights — sparked her curiosity in creating golf programs, particularly for girls.


At first of the 20th century, girls within the US did not have the correct to vote. Their rights, on the whole, had been few and much between.

Through the 1920s, Hollins was socially energetic, marching with the suffragettes beneath the banner ‘Failure is Unattainable,’ in line with David Outerbridge — who married certainly one of Hollins’ nieces — in his e-book, “Champion in a Man’s World: The Biography of Marion Hollins.”

And in line with Chorba, after Hollins and a few her pals had been denied entry to a golf membership on the idea of their gender, they determined to take issues into their very own fingers.

She set her thoughts on making a golf and tennis membership solely for girls, a secure haven for them to come back and play the game they beloved away from any prejudice.

“So that is what I feel sparked her curiosity as a result of right here she fought for girls’s voting, within the 20s,” Chorba defined. “In 1920, girls received the correct to vote, which she participated in lobbying for that. And so I feel that is what began her path to designing golf programs was that males stated: ‘Oh, no girls allowed.'”

In preparation for creating her first course, Hollins went on a factfinding mission to the UK. Armed with a digital camera and a small movement image outfit, not solely did she purchase information about learn how to develop a golf course and an appreciation of structure, she was additionally launched to Ernest Jones, described because the “nice golf trainer of the day” by Owen.

Hollins films the gardens at Great Fosters in Egham, Surrey, during a visit to the UK on May 19, 1932.

And so, when she returned to the US with Jones by her facet, he was made the top skilled at her first course: the Ladies’s Nationwide Golf and Tennis Membership.

As an alternative of taking a step away from creating the membership, Hollins was hands-on all through the method. She labored carefully with architect Devereaux Emmet, was additionally concerned within the scouting and procuring of the land, discovering the suitable funds and overseeing the development.

Establishing a girls’s-only golf membership in 1923 was momentous — however Hollins was simply getting began.

Marion Hollins (L) with some colleagues after playing the qualifying round of the Women's National Golf Championship.

Subsequent steps

Hollins’ subsequent large break got here by means of a gathering she had made just a few years earlier.

She had met Samuel Morse, and such was his curiosity in Hollins’ capacity as “among the finest salespeople he ever knew,” says Chorba, he determined to supply her a job in his line of labor.

One in all Morse’s goals was to make use of his Del Monte Firm to rework the Monterey Peninsula right into a hub, one the place each women and men might come to quench their thirst for the gorgeous recreation.

In her position because the athletic director of the Del Monte Firm, Hollins launched a number of tournaments, most notably the Pebble Seaside Championship for Ladies in 1923, which attracted a few of the US’ prime novice golfers.

In 1924, Hollins determined to embark on her subsequent large enterprise, one thing she’d want the backing of Morse to perform.

She proposed plans for an “unique membership similar to the golf equipment again on Lengthy Island,” explains Chorba, on the West Coast of the US. It might finally develop into the world-renowned Cypress Level Membership.

“She noticed the Cypress Level property and stated: ‘You understand, there’s 100 and fifty acres right here. We will design a really swanky course,'” Chorba defined.

Such was the element and analysis put into the plans, Morse determined to order 150 acres for the mission and put her in cost. He additionally employed C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor as designers, primarily due to their connection to their work with Hollins on the Ladies’s Nationwide.

Whereas Raynor died earlier than a lot headway might occur, Hollins turned to Alister MacKenzie to take his spot — a call that will come to reap rewards for each events.

Working side-by-side on each gap, MacKenzie and Hollins designed one of the beautiful coastal programs within the nation, with the crowning jewel being one of many shortest holes on the course.

The par-three 16th — which Owen describes as “the best par three anyplace” — with its tee on a rocky bluff to the left of the clubhouse throughout the bay to a promontory inexperienced has bamboozled many a participant with its treacherous location.

A general view of the 16th hole at the Cypress Point Club golf course.

“I don’t count on anybody will ever have the chance of establishing one other course like Cypress Level, as I don’t suppose anyplace on the planet is there such an excellent mixture of rocky coast, sand dunes, pine woods and cypress timber,” MacKenzie stated.

But, having designed one of many sport’s most iconic programs, Hollins’ greatest solo mission was nonetheless to come back.


Now a world-renowned developer, Hollins noticed a chance to design one thing that had by no means been accomplished earlier than: a sporting/residential complicated in North America.

She did not wish to simply create a spot for individuals to come back and luxuriate in their golf; Hollins needed extra.

“She needed to have a golf course, tennis, swimming, horseback using, equestrian, bridal trails, and so on., after which homes across the golf course,” Chorba defined.

And he or she occurred to stumble throughout the proper location in Santa Cruz whereas she was using on horseback someday.

Hollins’ funding for this course got here by means of a tip-off from a buddy about an undiscovered oil reserve in California which, after Hollins purchased a shares in, dramatically elevated in worth, offering her with the cash wanted to embark on such an bold mission. In response to Chorba, her stake was roughly $50 million in at present’s cash.

With the connections she had developed by means of her different initiatives, Hollins started. She employed the Olmsted brothers — a panorama architectural firm — Thomas Church — one other panorama architect — in addition to architects Clarence Tantau and William Wurste.

She as soon as once more had MacKenzie develop the course, though Chorba describes her because the “sole visionary” for the Pasatiempo mission.

And it was the nice impression her programs had on one other legend which opened the doorways to Hollins’ involvement in one of many greatest initiatives within the sport on the time.

Bobby Jones, the legendary golfer of the time, discovered himself in California with little to do after a shock early exit from a match, so he determined to play Cypress Level.

Jones was very impressed by the course and he was invited by Hollins — the pair first met and performed collectively throughout an exhibition at East Lake in Atlanta in 1924 — to play on the opening day of Pasatiempo.

(Left to right) Golfers Cyril Tolley, Hollins, Bobby Jones and Glenna Collett play the first round on the opening day of the Pasatiempo Golf Club on September 8, 1929. Hollins helped to develop the club and hired Alister MacKenzie as designer.

Taking part in alongside fellow golf champions Cyril Tolley and Glenna Collett-Vare and with MacKenzie strolling alongside them, Jones received a firsthand view of Pasatiempo, whereas additionally having loads of time to debate his future plans.

Throughout their spherical, they mentioned Jones’ and Clifford Roberts’ need to create a “nice golf membership the place the US Open may very well be performed within the South,” Owen defined.

Such was the impressiveness of Pasatiempo, Jones and Roberts determined to make use of most of the strategies utilized by Hollins — MacKenzie because the developer and hiring the Olmstead Brothers to do the panorama and the true property improvement plan — for their very own mission.

That mission grew to become Augusta Nationwide.

Making introductions

Via the connections Hollins fostered, Jones and Roberts had all the things in place to create the course of their goals.

Owen stated that the pair had “principally replicated Hollins’ conception of Pasatiempo” for Augusta Nationwide, with “no less than a few dozen residential constructing heaps, proper across the course, overlooking the course, and their hope was to promote these and so they hoped to enroll 1,800 members from everywhere in the world.”

“It was going to have a bridal path the place individuals might journey horses, there have been going to be tennis courts. There have been going to be two golf programs, one for males, one for girls.

“They had been going to tear down what’s now essentially the most immediately recognizable golf clubhouse on the planet, even most likely greater than the Royal and Historical in St. Andrews, as a result of it was a dump, it was a wreck and so they had been going to construct what they actually needed, which was this gigantic kind of southern mansion with an enormous locker room for males and an enormous locker room for girls.”

Nonetheless, in 1929, the US skilled its worst ever financial crises.

An aerial view of the Augusta National Golf course photographed on January 11, 1933.

On account of the Wall Avenue Crash and the Nice Melancholy that adopted, not solely did they wrestle to drum up curiosity, additionally they needed to accept a “a lot smaller” model of their unique plans, says Owen.

Jones and Roberts struggled for cash a lot that they could not pay MacKenzie his charges, regardless of him slashing them a number of instances. Even when he died, just a few months forward of the primary Masters, MacKenzie was nonetheless owed cash.

And, due to the monetary instability of the nation on the time, MacKenzie discovered it tough to journey all the way in which from California to Georgia to examine on the progress of the course. And that is the place Hollins got here in.

MacKenzie trusted Hollins’ judgment to such an extent that he despatched her in his stead to guage the progress being made.

Though Roberts questioned MacKenzie’s determination to ship Hollins, he was steadfast, saying: “I have no idea of any man who has sounder concepts.”

Hollins reported again “favorably,” in line with Owen, and along with her assist, it grew to become one of the well-known programs on the planet, and the host of golf’s most prestigious match.

A general view of the 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club.

Though a automobile accident affected her later in life and she or he died on the age of 51 in 1944, Hollins had already had a profound, multi-faceted impact on the sport of golf.

As Outerbridge’s e-book is titled, Hollins was a “champion in a person’s world.”

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