Marion Hollins was a woman ahead of her time. The American amateur golfer, who was born in East Islip, helped shape the golf world in the 20th century and was finally honored into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week.
In writing this “Historical Corner,” I had the privilege of speaking with Hollins’s great-nephew, Tony Grissim, who provided me with key information on her legacy and the importance of all that she accomplished.
Marion Hollins’s father was H.B. Hollins, a wealthy man who owned a Wall Street brokerage firm called H.B. Hollins and Co. Marion grew up in a life more luxurious than most and was an avid sportsperson. Hollins was the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and was the runner-up for the title in 1913. She was the captain of the first U.S. Curtis Cup team in 1932.
While her endeavors on the green were many and impressive, she is most remembered for her work as a developer of world-class golf courses.
Hollins established the Women’s National Golf and Tennis Club in 1923, which is now the Glen Head Country Club. Hollins developed the club after members of the prominent Creek Club decided to make the club for men only, excluding the female golfers, most of whom were their own wives.
Hollins was also instrumental in the development of Pebble Beach. She served as the athletic director with Sam Morse and helped develop the club into a famed location. In 2023, Pebble Beach will host its first U.S. Women’s Open, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Hollins’s win in the first Pebble Beach Championship for Women.
Arguably, Hollins’s most lasting contribution was to the famed Cypress Point Club. She hired Alister MacKenzie to design the club and worked with him on each of the holes. The famed 16th hole was her idea, which is now known as the “Sistine Chapel of Golf.” Golfers must take their tee shot over 200 yards over the Pacific Ocean to a green on a peninsula surrounded by the sea. After being naysayed on the idea of the hole in that location, she proved that it could be done herself, setting the stage for the most recognizable location in the golf world.
Hollins died fairly young, at the age of 51, in 1944 due to cancer, but her legacy in the golf world still lives on. Her induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame is a momentous honor and by coincidence, she was inducted the same year as Tiger Woods. It is incredible to think of what she accomplished both in her short lifetime as well as the time period she was living in. Women had only just earned the right to vote in 1919 when she was working side by side with famed developers to create golf meccas that are still revered today. She is an inspiration to women everywhere, and especially in sports, to push to have your voice heard.
Hollins’s great-nephew Tony Grissim is currently fundraising and overseeing the construction of a memorial to her near her simple grave on the Monterey Peninsula. Once completed, the Marion Hollins Memorial will feature nine Irish yew trees planted in a semicircle framing a custom concrete bench inscribed with “MARION HOLLINS—Visionary golf course architect & pioneer of the game,” along with the names of the five golf clubs and/or courses that she either founded or influenced. Next to the bench will be a plinth, with a large bronze plaque describing who she was and what she did.
The project is in need of donations and the project website, www.marionhollins.org, is a wonderful resource of additional information on her accomplishments.
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