Hezlet, Mary Elizabeth Linzee (‘May’) (1882–1978), amateur golfer, was born in Gibraltar on 29 April 1882, one of eight children of Richard Jackson Hezlet, an officer in the Royal Artillery and his wife Emily Mary Linzee Owen. The Hezlets were a famous golfing family, linked to the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Her father and her brother, Charles (qv), and her mother and three sisters, Florence, Violet and Emmie, all captained the men's and ladies’ clubs respectively, and all were accomplished golfers. A golfing prodigy, she started playing golf when she was nine, won her first competition in 1893 aged eleven, and by the age of twelve was playing off a handicap of sixteen. In 1898, at fifteen, she was runner-up in the Irish championship, which she won in 1899 at Newcastle, Co. Down, when she defeated her clubmate Rhona Adair. A week later she recorded a surprising victory in the British championship, again at Newcastle, and became the youngest ever winner of the tournament, aged seventeen, having celebrated her birthday during the intervening week. Two more victories were attained in the British championship, at Deal in 1902, and at Newcastle, Co. Down, in 1907 when she defeated her sister Florence (Jackie). She finished runner-up in the 1904 championship, when she was defeated by the tennis star Lottie Dod. A three-in-a-row of Irish championship victories was recorded from 1904 to 1906, defeating her sister Florence in the latter two finals. A fifth and final Irish championship was added in 1908, when she again defeated her sister. In 1909 she failed to defend her Irish title, because of her marriage in April that year to the rector of Ballymena, the Rev. A. E. Ross, which led to her retirement from championship golf. The lowest handicap she achieved during her career was plus seven, in 1904, and she was widely acknowledged as the finest female golfer of her day. In 1921 she was elected, by the Royal Portrush Ladies, an honorary member of the ladies’ committee, and in 1922 she was instituted as the first president of the ladies’ club, having already served the club as captain in 1905. She was also a life vice-president of the Irish Ladies’ Golfing Union.
She published at least two books, as well as several articles, on golf. Her principal book was Ladies’ golf, which was published in 1904 and again, in a revised edition, in 1907. There she wrote that golf was the ideal game for women: ‘the exercise is splendid without being unduly violent, as is sometimes the case in hockey or tennis’. In 1912 she was the only female contributor to The new book of golf which was published in London. The Hezlet sisters were close friends with the Boston golfing sisters, Margaret and Harriet Curtis, whom they met first in 1907. The friendship inspired the donation of the Curtis cup, which was played for between the female golfers of America, and Britain and Ireland, since 1932. Her husband served in the 1914–18 war and was awarded the military cross; he was appointed bishop of Tuam in 1920. He died suddenly in May 1923. She moved to England and was living there when most of her memorabilia were destroyed in a house fire during the blitz in the second world war. She died 27 December 1978 in a nursing home in Sandwich, Kent.