BROOKLINE, Mass ( Associated Press) — The winner of the first major held at the history-shrouded golf course that hosted this week’s US Open taught many solid lessons that still hold true today.
His name: Genevieve Hecker.
Hecker’s victory in the American Women’s Amateur in 1902 made her the perfect fit to write “Golf for Women,” the first instruction book written specifically for women. It is a manual that, in some ways, remains as relevant in 2022 as it was when it came out.
Hecker’s second straight title at the country’s most prestigious women’s event came 11 years before Frances Oimat put golf on the map in America by winning the US Open at The Country Club. Her victory came seven decades ago when Title IX changed the landscape for women in the sport in America forever.
It is Hecker, not Ouimet, who goes down as the first national champion of any kind to be crowned at The Country Club. At the time, golf was a diversion from the club’s main activities – among them, horse racing, polo and ice skating.
“When you have someone like Genevieve, who comes along at age 18 and becomes a very skilled player, she automatically becomes one of the best in the country, and some of the best in the world.” can compete,” said Michael. Trostel, USGA historian.
Hecker’s book came out in 1904. Cost: $2. Magazine ads of the day described the book as a must-see for a few thousand female golf lovers across the country.
“No female player, no matter how skilled, can benefit from a careful study of it,” said a review published in the New York Post.
Other reviews also convinced readers that the tips would be “useful for men as well.”
Although other instructional books have become more famous—think “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons” and Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book”—no one has a history or stands as Hecker’s 217-page trailblazer.
In the early 20th century, very few people had reason to think that women’s golf had too many spectators – a reality Hecker acknowledged in his introduction.
She called it “so comparatively unimportant that no woman felt it necessary to ignite the path for her faltering but spirited sisters.”
“Happily, that time is now gone, and it has never gone back,” she concluded.
And yet, women’s golf still has a long way to go.
The first US Women’s Open was not contested until 1946. Pro golf for women did not begin until the mid-1940s, and the LPGA Tour was not established until 1950.
In the early 1900s, the women’s game was played amateurishly by several dozen highly skilled players, mostly spread across the East Coast and Chicago.
It was a far cry from the shorts-and-golf-shirt comfort-fest it is today. The drawings and illustrations in “Golf for Women” show women performing various parts of the golf swing while wearing ankle-length skirts with long-sleeved blouses buttoned up to their necks. Some sport neckties. (The men didn’t have it much better. They were still walking around in knees and neckties.)
However, some of Hecker’s lessons could have been taken out of 2022 Golf Magazine. The book is filled with timeless tips that remind us that, as difficult as the game may be, some concepts remain dangerously simple:
– On the amateur’s well-worn penchant for not reaching the green or hitting enough clubs to clear the danger: “It is much easier to play a shot accurately than to play with a club that is will cover the distance with which one must play the press.”
– On putting: “One of the best and most famous axioms … ‘Never up, never in.'”
– On fast play: “Anyone who succumbs to the annoyance of waiting and waiting after each shot, while someone a hundred yards ahead goes through half a dozen meaningless swings, I think, whatever I do He will do it from the heart. He has said it.
Hecker’s success at the links, to say nothing of the fame he gained from writing the book, made him a well-known name in golf circles.
When she married a famous sportsman, Charles Stout, in 1903, a New York Times wedding announcement included a headline calling the union “romance on the lynx.” Hecker would take a break from competitive golf for nearly two decades while she was a child. When, in 1925, she won the New York Women’s Metropolitan Golf event at the Sivanoy Country Club at age 41, the Times dubbed it “one of the most remarkable comebacks in golf history.”
The potential audience for the book, meanwhile, grew larger after Ouimet’s breakthrough victory at The Country Club in 1913. That history-making victory triggered the golf boom in America, which grew from 350,000 to nearly 2 million players in the ensuing decade.
Nearly 120 years after the book first appeared, about 25 million people play golf in America. Of this, about a quarter are women, and the future looks promising.
According to the National Golf Foundation, girls’ golf in the United States is growing at a faster rate than boys’. Girls made up only 17% of junior golfers in 1995. Last year, he accounted for a third of his juniors.
Pretty much anyone, man or woman, would be hard-pressed not to find at least a few useful snippets of “Golf for Women.” The book also includes some words that may prove helpful to the 156 players trying to follow in his footsteps and become USGA champions at The Country Club this week.
“To be a successful tournament player, no matter how skilled,” she wrote, “it is essential to be able to use the opportunity, and ‘know how to play better than one,’ as the sports papers put it. when opportunity demands it.”
More Associated Press Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports