One of the problems with history is that it gets old in a hurry. Often the present must be reminded it stands on the shoulders of the past. And among those giants lost in the haze of time is Marion Hollins, emerging now as an apparition from an analog era to whisper into a digital ear that golf existed before Tiger Woods and greatness was not always carried by a TV signal or computer screen.
That Hollins – a pioneer as a player and developer – will enter the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021 along with Woods is fitting. While Tiger hurled golf into the 21st century, Hollins battered down barriers decades before the 13 Founders created the LPGA. She set the path for Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Annika Sorenstam and others, unleashing a Drive On spirit when few women were allowed behind the wheel.
Almost apropos of the way in which her accomplishments have been lost in the pages of history, the announcement that Hollins was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame along with Woods came as golf – and much of the world – was being shut down by the Coronavirus. But Hollins created a legacy that endures.
As a competitor her accomplishments straddled either side of World War I. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur 15 times, was runner-up in the 1913 and won it in 1921. She took the Pebble Beach Women’s Championship seven times and the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association Championship on three occasions.
In 1929, she and Glenna Collett Vare teamed to defeat Walter Hagen and Johnny Farrell in an exhibition match at Cypress Point. And in 1932, she captained the U.S. team in the first Curtis Cup. Yet it is through her contributions in the development of golf courses like Cypress Point, Pebble Beach and Pasatiempo that she stands as a giant a century later.
This honor – while some would argue long overdue – is nonetheless perfectly timed. The 2021 induction coincides with the 100th anniversary of Hollins’ victory in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. And in 2023, Pebble Beach hosts its first U.S. Women’s Open on the 100th anniversary of Hollins’ victory in the first Pebble Beach Championship for Women, a competition that helped establish the Monterey Peninsula as a golf mecca.
In 2025, the Walker Cup returns to Cypress Point Club, a course that owes its existence to Hollins. During its construction, she demonstrated the viability of the iconic par-3 16th hole by driving a ball across a 200-yard expanse of the Pacific Ocean. As course designer Alister Mackenzie wrote: “I was in no way responsible for the hole. It was largely due to the vision of Marion Hollins.
Hollins was born into privilege in East Islip, an enclave for the wealthy on the south shore of Long Island and in the shadow of Wall Street, where her father owned the brokerage firm H.B. Hollins & Co. But she wanted more to her life than cocktail parties and society balls. She leveraged her good fortune into a position of power unusual for a woman at that time, piling up a run of accomplishment cut short by cancer in 1944 at the age of 51.
Hollins set a new standard for golf design and the development of courses, both public and private. She used her money to make things happen, developing Women’s National Golf & Tennis Club in 1923, the first club solely for women only three years after women earned the right to vote.
Hollins developed and owned Pasatiempo near Santa Cruz, an Alister MacKenzie design that opened in 1929. Bobby Jones attended the opening at Hollins’ request and played with her. His experiences at Cypress Point and Pasatiempo were key in his decision to select MacKenzie as co-designer of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters.
During construction, MacKenzie sent Hollins to Augusta as his representative and when Clifford Roberts, the co-founder of Augusta National, asked whether MacKenzie should not be there, MacKenzie wrote, “I want her views and personal impressions in regard to the way that the work is being carried out. I do not know of any man who has sounder ideas.”
MacKenzie hit upon one of the stereotypes that kept Hollins from claiming her rightful place in history. She has long been judged as one of the most important women in the history of golf. MacKenzie knew she was one of the most important people in the game – male or female – and that she should not be categorized by gender.
Next year, on the 100th anniversary of her triumph in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Marion Hollins – the woman behind the men credited with many iconic designs – will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. It will be just another of her ever-lasting achievements. And this time she will be in the shadow of no one.