HAMPSTEAD — After a struggling start a quarter of a century ago, Piney Branch can be proud of its place in golf.
It took an elaborate homecoming celebration to remind Piney Branch members how far the club has come.
When the course opened in 1966, there was enough money to build only nine holes.
Today the club is a full-scale facility with 18 demanding holes, a membership of 520 and a waiting list of 150.
Memories of early years at Piney Branch abounded as a program, under chairwoman LaVerne Harden, included a round of tournament golf followed by 114 guests for dinner.
"Having such a fine turnout, particularlyfrom so many of our original members, gave us a warm feeling," said Harden.
Among the historical events recalled was that Charles B. Jones was the club's first professional, followed by Thelma Richards. Tim McCoy spent 11 years at the post.
Others were Joe Gillebeau and Phil Buzzelli. Jeff Zachman is now head professional.
At the outset, play at the course was limited to nine holes. Soon after, however, a second nine was made possible through independent financing froma group called the Back Nine Inc.
In a strange ownership arrangement, some members were stockholders of the original nine while othersheld stock with the Back Nine Inc.
In 1989, a merger of the two groups was reached.
The course was built on property owned 90 percent by Tom Shilling and Bill Armacost.
Shilling served as the firstpresident, followed by Armacost and Tom Zepp.
Don Richardson has been the club's president for the last eight years.
Included on Harden's committee for the anniversary celebration were: Retzie Gobrecht, Peggy Miller, Ginny Lutz, Marge Davis, Judy Flowers, Jean Hill, Ginny McCanney, Anita Jones, Peggy Patton, Bobby Schaeffer, Mable Hogge, Irene Wooden, Thelma Richards, Jean Zepp and Shirley Hastings.
Winning foursome in tournament play was made up of Debbie Stricker, Ginny McCanney, Jana Zachman and Alice Bryant, scoring 121.
The second-place team with a 123 score included Virginia Lutz, Connie Henderson, Jane Palmer and Mary Beth Shilling. In third with 125 was the team of Ginger Owings, Rose Roth, Mickey Adolph and LaVerne Harden.
Special holiday golf tournaments at area courses included:
* Piney Branch: The club's 36-hole stroke play championship yesterday and today. Steve Yount is defender of the men's title and Susan Roche is the women's champion.
* Wakefield: Prize winners in the Flag Tourney Thursday were: Jim Larimer, Dave Duley, Milton Zepp, Monte Hankin, John Gallagher, Charles Walker, Marge Harding, Tom Veditz and BillMacGarvey.
* Bear Creek: Head professional Greg Long carded a 70 and turned back most of the club's members in a "Beat the Pro" event.The only two to make use of their handicaps and beat the pro were John Light with a net 65 and Jim Horn with a net of 67. Debbie Buenger tied the pro with a net 70.
Tournament notes: Bear Creek willhost a celebrity tournament for the American Cancer Society on July 22. The lineup will include seven members of the Orioles and four players from the Baltimore Blast. For information phone 876-GOLF.
Thehome-and-home team match between Piney Branch and Wakefield has beenpostponed. A PGA pro-am will bring 60 professionals to Wakefield on July 15. The club will host a Multiple Sclerosis charity tournament on July 12.