It would be easy to forgive Hollis Stacy if she thought little about the virtues of amateur golf. With victories in four major championships, three of those U.S. Women’s Opens, and induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, the Savannah, Ga., native carved out a memorable professional career. But Stacy understands that her journey in the game is not one that is easy to duplicate.
The only player in history to win three consecutive U.S. Girls’ Junior titles, Stacy, 65, has always stayed close to her roots in the game, and continues to take an interest in the development of junior golfers. From 2001-18, she followed in the footsteps of her mother by serving on the USGA’s Girls’ Junior Championship Committee, and she credits friendly matches with local youths in Bradenton, Fla., with getting her ready for her rare turns in competition.
Last week, she played in the ANA Junior Inspiration, a 54-hole event that leads into the season’s first women’s professional major. Her partner in the competition, Kaleiya Romero, is headed to Pepperdine University to continue her golf career in the fall of 2020. When the San Jose, Calif., resident told Stacy about her post-college plans, it was music to her ears.
“I encouraged her to go four years, and then she said she wanted to go into law and I said, ‘Fabulous.’ Pro golf is tough, it’s really tough, and you can be a professional in law and use your golf,” said Stacy. “Not everybody is going to be grinding it out and winning Opens and holding up the trophies, so I always encourage, if you’re getting a scholarship, go the four years. I went (to Rollins College) for two years; I wish I’d gone four.”
Indeed, Stacy doesn’t have to go far to see how rewarding being a lifelong amateur golfer can be. Her younger sister, Martha Leach, decided against the professional ranks after a successful career at the University of Georgia. She instead opted for a career in real estate, and her list of amateur golf successes includes the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. As the low amateur in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open last July at Chicago Golf Club, Leach was tied with her sister through 36 holes before finishing tied for 10th, while Hollis finished in a tie for 28th.
While their golf lives would take very divergent paths, their respective ascents began in similar fashion in their home state. Nearly a decade before Martha, the eighth of 10 children, won the 1978 Georgia Girls’ Championship, Hollis, the fourth, won the state women’s amateur at 15, the same year she became the youngest U.S. Girls’ Junior champion to that point. Annual trips to Augusta National for the Masters Tournament gave Stacy the chance to see the world’s best players up close, and six-hour drives to Atlanta Country Club for lessons with Davis Love Jr. proved invaluable.