It is a normal dinner hour at the Stacy house. Gil, the oldest son, is married and away at law school. Laurie, 20, having bemoaned the fact that her sister Hollis never cleans their bedroom, has vacated the premises for the evening. Tommy, 18, and John, 14 (who is called the Bomb because most of the time he looks like one just hit him), are off at a couple of golf tournaments. The rest of the Stacy family, however, is at home on Gwinnett Street in Savannah, Ga.:
Jean, 11, jumping high and touching her toes in midair; Mary, 9, demonstrating a graceful pirouette before breaking out her drawing of a scrubwoman playing golf with a bearded hippie; Martha, 8, turning somersaults while squealing; Ann, 7, turning somersaults while rolling into Martha and screeching; Aimee, 6, doing a passable rendition of I Love You Truly on their electric organ; Hollis, 16, bemoaning the fact that her sister Laurie never cleans their bedroom and petting the Siamese, Samantha. Meanwhile, Jack, the father, is sipping a vodka tonic and wondering what is on television, and Matilda, the mother, is shouting at little Aimee not to hit the flat note again on Truly, Dear. Somewhere in all this, Mrs. Stacy is also explaining to the family's forewarned but unarmed guest that her own father, a roving sea captain, once having disembarked rather shakily upon Scotland near St. Andrews and having heard of the fame of the Old Course, went ahead to play 18 (though he didn't know one end of a golf club from the other) and to "shoot about 500—drunk as a coot."
Such confusion and enthusiasm for golf still colors the lives of the Jack Stacy clan. Dad, a commercial architect, is a two-handicapper, while mom plays to a 10, John the Bomb to an eight and Tommy to just about scratch. Tommy, in fact, recently won the Georgia PGA tournament for boys and, with it, a $1,000 scholarship. But the star of the family, indeed the new golfing prodigy of all the land, is their pug-nosed, pierced-eared, lemon lollipop of a sister, sugarhearted Hollis, the Vamp of Savannah and the USGA.
Through the years girls' junior golf has been populated with more precocity than anyone has had time to count or care about. Judy Torluemke, for example, was low amateur in the 1960 Women's Open at a tender 15. Roberta Albers, the prototype of a sporting child-star, was 14 when she reached the semifinals of the Women's Amateur in 1961. Yet the accomplishments of brown-haired, brown-eyed Hollis Stacy during the last year have stirred the interest and curiosity of the game's most jaded observers. Recently the old pro Tony Penna was asked to evaluate her swing. "Don't let anybody touch her," he said. "She could play with a broom."
Last August Hollis, then 15, became the youngest girl ever to win the USGA Girls' Junior Championship. She also was medalist in the Western Junior, won the Georgia women's state tournament and the Savannah city championship. Then, in April, on the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course, she proceeded to win the North and South amateur against many of the best female golfers in the country, playing 97 holes of match play (six matches) in seven-under-par. Along the way she defeated veterans Tish Preuss and Martha Wilkinson on the same day, then crushed Mrs. Alice Dye 6 and 4 in the finals. "I think I know how the first woman to lose to young Babe Zaharias must have felt," said Mrs. Dye.
Because she failed to make the cut at the Women's Open last month, Hollis was kept from a starting spot on the U.S. Curtis Cup team. Some voices around the ladies' tee have been raised to say that she should have been selected anyway. A North and South champion is almost always picked and, besides, she has defeated four Curtis Cuppers in match play. But Hollis hides her disappointment admirably. "It's my own fault," she says. "I shouldn't have left it to chance."
Her good friend Nancy Hager, from Dallas, who is a Curtis Cup appointee, and the two blonde Californians, Debbie Grove and 14-year-old Laura Baugh, will be Hollis' stiffest challengers for the Girls' Junior championship that begins this week at Apawamis Country Club in Rye, N.Y. If somebody doesn't stop her there, when will they? Next summer the junior tournament, as well as the Women's Amateur, will be held in her home state of Georgia.
"Hallelujah!" says Hollis' mother. "We'll get them then. We'll have the whole family out rooting."
Growing up in a family of 10 children probably had a lot to do with generating Hollis' competitive spirit, but the scrapbook of her early athletic achievements shows that golf came only after other adventures. Early on, she was a tennis player, than a champion soft ball thrower in a parochial-league meet, then a forward on her Blessed Sacrament eighth-grade basketball team.
All along, she loved swimming above everything, but ear trouble forced a switch to golf when she was 11. Hollis "played like a nut for three months," sometimes 42 holes a day, through mosquitoes, sun and dust at the Savannah Golf Club. She became dehydrated, suffered heatstroke, lost 10 pounds and missed the first week of school. After a few months she shot 43-43—86, but nobody believed her, least of all, boys. A couple of them played a friendly match with her soon thereafter, and when she went par, birdie, eagle on the last three holes they walked off the green, presumably to go find a football.