From the Golf Journal Archives - Now What Can Hollis Stacy Do For an Encore?

Jun 24, 2011

By Frank Hannigan

(Note: This article originally appeared in the October 1971 issue of Golf Journal.)

The veneration of teenage golfers is something that should be approached with the greatest of caution and done, if at all, in moderation. All too many fawned-over adolescent wonders develop bloated egos long before they even graduate from the junior ranks; they’re lead to believe by college recruiters, among others, that the ability to strike a golf ball hard and true means that the world owes you a living.

Having established this sour disclaimer, it is now safe to say that 17-year-old Hollis Stacy, of Savannah, Ga., is terrific. Hollis won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship for an unprecedented third time in August. She has had more attention paid to her than any teenage golfer of her gender in the history of the game and is apparently unspoilable. As one of 10 children, it seems to have occurred to her that she may not be all that special. And then of course, there is her mother, who is wont to parody some of Hollis’ more sickening press notices by saying things like, “I wonder if the Shirley Temple of the links might consider sweeping up her room today?”

Indeed, the only noticeable change in Hollis’ attitude since she started her rampage in junior golf has been a diminution of her shyness and a willingness to expose an impish sense of humor, which her peers have always appreciated, on adults – including staid golf officials. Examples: during the stroke-play qualifying in August she called for a ruling on a green and asked if she might get relief from a series of three or four scuff marks in her line of putt. Told that she might not since they were not ball marks, she remarked that it seemed too bad that the Rules did not take into account the possibility of a herd of elephants romping across a green. Then there was the 15th green of the final, with the match all square, when she had to putt over a small barren piece of earth that was not marked as Ground Under Repair. Turning to the referee she said softly, “You mean you’re going to make me putt through the Grand Canyon?”

And can she play! The 1971 Girls’ Junior Championship was staged at the venerable Augusta Country Club, which used to be the site of the Titleholders tournament. You will remember that the Titleholders always seemed to be won by the likes of Babe Zaharias or Patty Berg or Louise Suggs with scores approximating 300 for 72 holes.

Ascribing stroke play scores to match play is a slippery business, but it can be said with decisiveness that Hollis Stacy was four under par for the 19 holes it required for her to win the final match. That final, against an absolute and bona fide 15-year-old phenomenon named Amy Alcott, of Los Angeles, was one of the landmarks in the history of American golf. It’s difficult to imagine two players in the final match of a national championship playing up to, and perhaps beyond the capacities of their talents.

Hollis won the first hole with a par; Amy did likewise on the second. From the third hole through the 17th – or 30 holes of golf in all between them – they made nary a bogey. During that time there were nine birdies, and going to the 18th, a long par 4 in women’s golf, Hollis lead by one hole. Amy squared it by getting down in two for her par after an exquisitely-played shot from a bunker. Then on the 19th, another par 4, Amy literally drove the ball 250 yards; Hollis’ drive was about 210, But Hollis ripped an iron to within 15 feet of the hole and made the putt for a birdie while Amy could manage only a 4.

To put into perspective the holing of a birdie putt to win a national championship, it should be noted that never in the history of the United States Open has a man won the title by holing a putt for a birdie on the last hole.

The quality of the shot-making was such that Hollis was on 15 of 19 greens in regulation figures while Amy hit 14. Amy, who seems destined to become the longest hitter in women’s golf since the emergence of the young JoAnne Gunderson, hit three of the greens on the par-5 holes in only two strokes. For instance, on the 455-yard eighth, albeit downhill, Amy smashed a 3-iron shot 10 feet from the hole. That sort of thing simply hasn’t been done in girls’ golf.

All in all, the championship was a great success. Miss Eileen Stulb, one of Georgia’s most gracious ladies, was the hard-working and very efficient general chairman. The weather was pleasant and cooperative, and everyone, including the parents of the losers, seemed to have a nice time.

The losing semifinalists were Mary Budke, of Dayton, Ore., and Donna Horton, of Kinston, N.C. Miss Budke lost to Miss Alcott on the 21st hole while Miss Horton was defeated by Miss Stacy, 2 and 1. The medalist, with 152, was last year’s runner-up, Janet Aulisi, of West Caldwell, N.J., who has come out of the smog-befouled New York Metropolitan atmosphere as the most promising young lady golfer from that area since Maureen Orcutt.

It would seem appropriate to bid a fond good-bye to Hollis Stacy as a junior golfer by repeating one of her mother’s stories. It seems that Hollis first created a big stir in golf by winning the Georgia Women’s Championship three or four years ago. According to Mrs. Stacy there was a wizened old club member who rocked and rocked on the clubhouse porch during the tournament. After Hollis had won the final, the old member asked Mrs. Stacy what her husband’s occupation was. Mrs. Stacy replied “architect.” The old member said “How’s he doing?” Mrs. Stacy: “Jack’s doing fine.” Old member: “That’s good, ‘cause that child’s gonna cost you a ton of money.”

The end of a perfect week for Hollis Stacy as the last putt falls and she wins her third consecutive Girls’ Junior. (USGA Museum)

It is altogether probably that more will be heard from Miss Alcott in future girls’ championships. (USGA Museum)

Miss Stacy is no longer eligible for the Girls’ Junior after this year. She accepts her third trophy from Mrs. Frank R. Lovell, chairman of the USGA Girls’ Junior Championship Committee. (USGA Museum)