Girls' golf, observed a USGA man down in Augusta last week, is a very formful game. Despite the adolescent figures strolling the fairways at the U.S. Girls' Junior Championships in those trim, no-nonsense outfits, he did not mean it as a pun. One of the more durable pieces of male wisdom holds that women don't like surprises, and it seemed to go double for the teen-age girl golfers at Augusta. The unexpected need not apply.
All of them—the Debbys, Lindas, Cindys and Candys, the Aprils, LuAnns, Kimberlys and Mary Beths—came to the Augusta Country Club, next door to the Augusta National where the Masters is played, well supplied with hopes and hair ribbons. One hundred and one came, and after the qualifying rounds most of them went right back home again. The 32 left to fight it out in three days of match play were the 32 everyone expected to be there, including the one—Hollis Stacy—the rest wished had stayed away.
Form was followed with eerie precision down to the very last day, which is not to say that nobody tried. In this quiet, unturbulent pool of feminine order, a cool, braided, California blonde named Laura Baugh made quite a splash. She was an innocent troublemaker, but a troublemaker, nevertheless. First, in a field of 13- to 17-year-olds, of children emerging into adolescence and adolescents changing into women, she wasn't emerging at all. Miss Baugh had already emerged. She had one of the most confident walks ever seen, her perfectly tanned, well-formed legs swinging jauntily. The hair on her tapered arms was bleached absolutely white against a milk-chocolate tan. Her platinum hair was pulled smartly back into a Viking-maiden braid. Her tunic-skirted golf outfit contrasted with the essentially neutral uniform often adopted as protective coloration by girl golfers of that age. When Laura stooped down to line up a putt, she did it gracefully, as she seemed to do everything else. Never a moment of uncertainty, nor an awkward gesture. It was quite unfair.
The other girls never actually admitted they disliked Laura—whatever antipathy there was seemed to stem from the fact that she seldom conceded a putt, no matter how short. But that was merely part of her conservative game, which was manifested in other ways. She consistently chipped on the safe side of the ideal placement and consistently drove shorter than she was able. Actually, Laura Baugh is quite likable. Her father, Hale Baugh, came up from Florida to be with her in Augusta (Laura's parents are divorced), and his pride was evident. "Her mother has done a wonderful job with her," he said rather wistfully. He recalled how Laura at age four would tag along when her brothers played golf, hitting an occasional ball of her own. "We'd clap for her, then she'd play a hole or two. I made her a little club out of a wood block."
During the tournament she dallied with the idea of breaking out of her conservative mold at least once. "I wanted to wear tennis panties with my dress today," she said one morning. "I was just afraid the USGA wouldn't let me." And then, of course, she almost made golfing mischief. She nearly beat unbeatable Hollis Stacy.
Native to Georgia and a great local favorite, Hollis had won the last two junior championships, only the second player in 22 years to do so, and had done it walking away. Up to Thursday's match she had lost exactly two holes in two rounds. She had won her first-round match in 11 holes, and the talk among the caddies was that she could have won in 10, the minimum, but that would have been rubbing it in.
In her quarterfinal match with Laura Baugh there was no question of rubbing it in. Laura, who started off shakily with a bogey on the 1st, watched impassively as Hollis seemed up to her usual tricks. On the par-3 4th, Hollis hit her tee shot to within a foot of the pin, a hole in one that just stopped rolling. She went one up. Normalcy.
But somehow, Laura wouldn't follow the script. For the next 14 holes, she went two under par and did not bogey once. On every drive she was 20 yards shorter than Hollis, but her short game more than made up for it. On the 8th hole, a short par 5, she drew even. And on the ninth, she holed her pitch shot and went one up.
Now the imperturbable Hollis began to trudge. She swung around in frustration after missing a putt on the 14th and almost got three behind on the 15th before getting down in two from a trap. Hollis also put her second shot on 16 into a trap, next to a high green looking out over the national forest where all Augusta gathered in 1864 to watch for Sherman's March.
Once again the Yankees didn't make it. Hollis blasted out beautifully, Laura missed a long putt, then another, and Hollis was only one down. When Hollis won 18, it was even. Coolly, Hollis hit her best drive of the day on the 19th; Laura pulled into a sand trap, and Hollis had won.