Genevieve Hecker: Bio of Women's Golf Pioneer

golfer Genevieve Hecker
Genevieve Hecker was a two-time winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship in the first decade of that tournament's history. She also won one of the few other big tournaments that existed for women in the early 1900s four times. And she has a notable place in the history of golf instruction.

Date of birth: November 19, 1883

Place of birth: Darien, Connecticut

Date and place of death: July 29, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York

Also known as: After marriage, often referred to in news stories of the era as Mrs. Charles T. Stout, or Mrs. C.T. Stout.

Her Biggest Wins

  • 1900 Metropolitan Golf Championship
  • 1901 U.S. Women's Amateur
  • 1901 Metropolitan Golf Championship
  • 1902 U.S. Women's Amateur
  • 1905 Metropolitan Golf Championship
  • 1906 Metropolitan Golf Championship

Hecker's U.S. Women's Amateur Wins

Hecker won the seventh and eighth U.S. Women's Amateurs ever played, in 1901 and 1902 respectively. She was the second golfer, after Beatrix Hoyt, to win the title multiple times.

In 1901, at Baltusrol, Hecker defeated Lucy Herron in the championship match, 5 and 3. Her road to the title included a 1-up win on the 19th hole over Georgianna Bishop (1904 champ) in the second round.

In 1902 at The Country Club (Brookline), Hecker beat Louisa Wells 4 and 3 in the championship match. Her road to the final included beating 1899 champ Ruth Underhill on the 19th hole in the second round; and Women's Western Amateur champ Bessie Anthony in the third round. When Hecker chose not to defend her title in 1903, Anthony took the crown that year.

Hecker first played in the U.S. Women's Amateur in 1899, but played only sporadically after her back-to-back wins. After winning in 1902, she returned only in 1905 and reached the quarterfinals before losing to Margaret Curtis. She played again in 1909, and again went out in the quarters, that time to the eventual champ Dorothy Campbell.

More About Genevieve Hecker

A photo of Genevieve Hecker published in 1902 after her U.S. Women's Amateur win referred to her as "the daughter of the late millionaire flour manufacturer John V. Hecker." Like virtually all women involved in competitive golf at that time in America, Hecker came from privilege.

An article published in the Wichita Eagle newspaper in May 1903 said this about Hecker: "Miss Hecker's golf is considered to be the nearest faultless of any woman's in America. Next to this, her coolness is what wins. She is said to be absolutely iron-nerved ... Her strength is so great that spectators wonder whence it comes, for Mrs. Stout is only 5 foot 3, slender and rather light in weight. But when she plays golf every pound of her seems turned into muscle charged with electricity. She can drive a ball 200 yards. And, no matter what happens, she keeps her head on, never being the least bit rattled or excited."

Hecker's wins in the 1900 and 1901 Women's Metropolitan championships (staged by the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association in New York) were the first two times that tournament was played. She was only 16 years old at the time of her first win.

Although she qualified for the 1899 Met, a newspaper article in 1900 stated that at the time of her 1900 win, Hecker "was practically unknown." But then Hecker defeated 3-time U.S. Women's Amateur champ Beatrix Hoyt in the semifinals (after being 2-down at the turn), and suddenly she was unknown no more. She then won the championship over Ruth Underhill by a 9-and-7 score, a score the newpaper called "the largest score ever recorded in a championship." (Underhill was not just the 1899 USWA champ but also the founder of the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association.)

Early in 1901, at her home club of Wee Burn in Connecticut, Hecker took golf instruction from Scottish pro George Strath. Then she went out and won her back-to-back USWA titles.

In 1902, Hecker, also a member at Apawamis Club, led the club's women's team against the men's in an intramural match. She won her match by three holes against Maturin Ballou, who was the secretary of the USGA at the time, but the men won the handicap competition by a score of 8 to 6.

Hecker's personal life was sometimes covered in the newspapers. In 1903, she married businessman Charles T. Stout, a fellow Apawamis golfer, in what the New York Times called "a romance of the links."

The romance must have faded by 1912, when another newspaper reported that, after hiring detectives to trail Hecker and an employee of their estate with whom she was traveling, Stout had decided to file for divorce. By 1914, however, Stout withdrew that application. They remained married until Stout's death in 1948.

Hecker lived another 12 years. She was 76 years old when she died in 1960. Today she is a member of the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association Hall of Fame.

And today she is remembered as much for the first she achieved as an author as for her golf tournament wins. Hecker first wrote about golf in a series of articles published in Harper's Magazine in 1902. Two years later, in 1904, her book Golf For Women (affiliate link) was published. It is widely called the first golf instruction book for women.

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