Beatrix Hoyt: Golfer Was First Multiple U.S. Women's Amateur Champ

Golfer Beatrix Hoyt with her dog in 1901
Beatrix Hoyt was the best woman golfer in America in the 1890s. But when the century turned, so did her golf success. Hoyt won three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur Championships, but her entire golf record happened before she was 21, from age 16 to age 20.

Date of birth: July 5, 1880

Place of birth: Westchester County, New York

Date and place of death: August 14, 1963 in Thomasville, Georgia

Nickname: When she won the U.S. Women's Amateur at age 16, some press scribes dubbed her "the Young Tom Morris of America."

Hoyt's 3 U.S. Women's Amateur Wins

Beatrix Hoyt won the U.S. Women's Amateur three consecutive years, 1896 through 1898. The 1896 tournament was just the second time it was played. So Hoyt was the first golfer to win this title three times total, a feat first matched by Margaret Curtis — who beat Hoyt in her final U.S. Women's Amateur match — in 1912. And three successive wins? Alexa Stirling did it again when she won her third in a row in 1920. Juli Inkster, in 1980-82, is the most recent golfer to achieve that, and Glenna Collett Vare and Virginia Van Wie also did it. But Hoyt was there first.

Hoyt was 16 years, three months old at the time of her first U.S. Women's Amateur title in 1896, a title she won just two years after first playing golf. She remained the tournament's youngest champion until 1971, when Laura Baugh won it at 16 years, two months old.

A sportswriter at the time of Hoyt's first win wrote that "her game is characterized by a steadiness and precision that would be considered charming even in an older and more experienced golfer."

She first entered in 1896, the second time the USWA was played. Only eight other golfers advanced to match play, meaning Hoyt had only to win three matches to take the title. And that she did, winning the championship match by a 2-and-1 score.

In 1897, Hoyt, now age 17, defeated the 13-year-old Margaret Curtis, 8 and 6, in the first round. She won her next match 6 and 4, and the championship match 5 and 4.

In 1898, Hoyt made it 3-for-3 as the match play bracket was expanded to 16 golfers. She again marched easily through the field, winning her matches 4 and 3, 6 and 4, 5 and 4, and, in the championship match, 5 and 3.

More About Beatrix Hoyt

Beatrix Hoyt didn't just win three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur titles, she also earned medalist honors five consecutive years in the stroke play qualifying. Margaret Curtis and Glenna Collett Vare later earned medalist honors six times each, but they each had multiple years when they were tied by other golfers. Hoyt was a solo medalist all five times. And five years in a row — no other golfer in U.S. Women's Amateur history has been medalist more than three consecutive years.

What kind of scores did Hoyt shoot? She won those medalist honors with scores of 95, 108, 92, 97 and 94. Sound high? Those were great scores for an American woman golfer in the 1890s. She was seven strokes better than anyone else in the qualifying round in 1896; her 108 in 1897 led the field by six strokes; and she led the field by eight strokes in 1898.

In a 1950 interview with the USGA, Frances Griscom, a contemporary who won the USWA in 1900, commented about Hoyt, "Miss Beatrix Hoyt was supreme — she could even break a hundred!" Some of her contemporaries were astounded that Hoyt, in the words of one sportswriter, "could play in the 80s on a calm day."

But in going for four wins in a row in the 1899 U.S. Women's Amateur, Hoyt lost in the first round — a shocking result. In 1900, Hoyt fell in the semifinals to Margaret Curtis, on the second extra hole. (Curtis then lost in the final to Griscom.)

And that was Hoyt's last time playing tournament golf. Only age 20, she left the golf scene entirely. Her only other tournament win of note was a mixed foursomes tournament played at Westchester Country Club in New York in 1897.

Hoyt had grown up at Westchester, her parents living on the grounds of the golf club. The family was wealthy (almost all the earliest American women golfers were socialites) and connected. Beatrix's grandfather was Salmon Chase, Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln, and, later, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The family also had membership at Shinnecock Hills, and that is the golf course that Beatrix called her home course during her tournament years. She also helped found the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association.

What did Hoyt do with the rest of her life after she gave up tournament golf? A few years after her last appearance in the U.S. Women's Amateur, Hoyt and her mother moved to Thomasville, Georgia. Beatrix became a painter and sculptor.

A 1933 newspaper article about Hoyt, then 53, said that she lived in an "estate" bordering the Glen Avern Country Club golf course in Thomasville (it's nice to have family money!). The article described a life of leisure, with Hoyt playing golf (she "can still go around a tough course in less than 100"), riding horses and practicing her shooting skills.

But by 1945 the famous sportswriter O.B. Keeler wrote that Hoyt was no longer golfing. She was, Keeler wrote, staying busy playing bridge, shooting, working on her art.

She also worked in her gardens and, as a hobby, liked to develop new varieties of her favorite plants and flowers. Today, you can still find the Beatrix Hoyt Camellia variety she developed offered by gardening sites and nurseries.

In 1950, Hoyt was among the six inaugural inductees into the Women's Golf Hall of Fame, established that year at Augusta Country Club in Georgia. That Hall no longer exists, and when it was absorbed into the LPGA Hall of Fame Hoyt (and all the other amateurs) was not included. She is, however, today a member of the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association Hall of Fame.

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