USGA INSIDER HISTORY
Wright, Hoyt Among Women Celebrated in USGA Golf Museum March 22, 2017 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By Victoria Student, USGA

Mickey Wright's smile is the only thing nicer than her golf swing. (Courtesy USGA)

The USGA Golf Museum has long supported the role of women in golf, featuring a room dedicated to five-time USGA champion Mickey Wright, as well as numerous artifacts from females who have contributed to the game.

Wright is regarded by many as the most accomplished female golfer in history, possessing a swing hailed by Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson as the greatest in the game, male or female. She won 82 tournaments and 13 major championships, including four U.S. Women’s Opens (1958, 1959, 1961 and 1964). She still holds the LPGA Tour record for most victories in one year with 13 in 1963.

With her exceptional play and magnetic smile, Wright, who also won the 1952 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, was the face of women’s golf for more than a decade, starting in the late 1950s. Her appeal to fans of all ages brought crowds and sponsors to fledgling LPGA Tour events.

Wright actually did write the book on how to swing a golf club. (Courtesy USGA)

Fellow competitor Betsy Rawls said of Wright: “Mickey gave the LPGA credibility in the areas of skill and competence. No one would ever doubt after seeing Mickey that women could be great golfers.”

Although Wright continued to play on a limited basis, injuries cut her career short in her mid-30s. Nevertheless, she set an incredibly high standard of achievement that has both challenged and inspired future generations.

The Mickey Wright Room includes artifacts that span her incredible playing career and highlight her contributions to the game, with gems such as the Bullseye putter she used to win 81 of her 82 tournaments, her typewriter and her miniature U.S. Women’s Open Trophies.

Long before Wright made her mark on the game, Beatrix Hoyt served as a pioneer for women in golf. Described by American Olympian and author James B. Connolly in 1897 as “the best woman golfer the American public has ever seen,” Hoyt became a national star, winning three consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateurs from 1896 to 1898, and medalist honors five consecutive times from 1896 to 1900. At just 16, she was the first to receive the ornately enameled trophy donated by Robert Cox in 1896 at Morris County Golf Club in Morristown, N.J.

Beatrix Hoyt was considered the first dominant player in women's golf. Learn more about her in the USGA Golf Museum. (Courtesy USGA)

The granddaughter of Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of the treasury, Hoyt learned the game at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, one of the most influential clubs in early American golf. With a uniquely powerful and athletic swing for a woman of her time, the September 1934 issue of Golf Illustrated described Hoyt at the height of her golf career as “the invincible wonder woman who swept all before her… .”

Hoyt served as one of the first five officers of the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association, founded in 1899. Following her defeat in the semifinal match of the 1900 U.S. Women’s Amateur by Margaret Curtis, Hoyt retired from competitive golf. Later in life, Hoyt became an artist, painting landscapes and creating sculptures of animals. 

Her original U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship Trophy, as well as a cleek she used on the way to her 1896 victory, is on display in the USGA Golf Museum.

The USGA Golf Museum, the interactive home to thousands of rare artifacts and golf memorabilia, is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, except during major holidays.

Victoria Student is a historian at the USGA Golf Museum. Email her at vstudent@usga.org.

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