Hollins proved if a girl goes for it, guys will

Friday, April 01, 2011
By John Boyette
Sports Editor

The key to deciphering the mystery of how Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie met might lie with Marion Hollins.

Cyril Tolley (from left), Marion Hollins, Bobby Jones and Glenna Collett played opening Day at Pasatiempo on Sept. 8, 1929.

(JULIAN P. GRAHAM/LOON HILL STUDIOS)

The accomplished golfer and businesswoman knew both men.

With her role in helping develop courses such as Pasatiempo and Cypress Point, she had a huge impact on MacKenzie's career because she recommended him for the course design jobs.

Hollins won the 1921 U.S. Women's Amateur and traveled in the same social circles as Jones, and she knew him well enough to get him to play on Pasatiempo's opening day. Jones invited Hollins to play an exhibition match at his home course, East Lake in Atlanta, during one of her visits to the East Coast in the early 1920s.

She even made a trip on MacKenzie's behalf while Augusta National was being built. The club was struggling with finances, and Clifford Roberts didn't have the money he owed MacKenzie. Most experts think this was a ploy by MacKenzie, but Hollins was the only one who could afford the cross-country trip as tough economic times took their toll.

"I can see where he and Clifford Roberts would not be kindred souls," said Robert Beck, the former Pasatiempo historian. "I can see where Hollins would be the perfect person to send. Hollins was a lot bigger person than Roberts, where she stood socially."

She did make the trip, and MacKenzie later wrote that "she was most favourably impressed with it."

Hollins also played a role in the creation of the par-3 16th hole at Cypress Point. MacKenzie was planning on making the hole into a short par-4 because it would require a long carry over water as a par-3.

"He said it's too long, the guys won't go for it," said Casey Reamer, the head pro at Cypress Point. "With that she teed the ball up in the dirt, took her driver, took one long, beautiful swing, and knocked it all the way over and it landed right in the center of where the green is today. She said if a girl goes for it, the guys will go for it.

"And it became a par-3. She was instrumental in that, and hence, one of the greatest par-3s in the world."

Hollins used her wealth to turn Pasatiempo into a playground for the rich and famous. She loved the socializing and the competition.

"It was a small world, and she was a star of that world," Beck said. "She had that movie-star quality."