John Haines was the head professional at Goose Creek Country Club and Bill Ward was one of the members when the two first met nearly 30 years ago.
The friendship flourished during Haines' 10 years at the club in Leesburg, Va., and 17 more as the head professional at Hunt Valley Golf Club.
About six weeks ago, Ward called Haines, who was between positions, and told him he was part of a group that had just bought Teton Pines Golf Club in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and how would Haines like to be the golf professional?
"It wasn't quite that definite, but he wanted me to fly out and meet with the club's general manager," Haines said the other day. "In the end, they offered me the job, and I accepted."
And, just like that, the Middle Atlantic Professional Golfers' Association, and more specifically the Baltimore golf community, lost one of their pillars. He and his wife, Kathryn (their three grown children are away from home), expect to leave later this month.
Haines, seemingly always enthusiastic about whatever concerns him at the moment, was animated in talking about his new job. "The golf course is an Arnold Palmer design, built in 1988 as part of a development project. It has a beautiful clubhouse and a great view.
"I was surprised by the flatness of the area. They put in 44 acres of lakes to get the dirt for mounding and contouring."
The best part is the seasonal operation, as the club would be open from mid-May to mid-October. This will allow the passionate Washington Redskins follower -- "My wife is the real fanatic," he says -- to see some games and still have a winter of Florida living and golf.
Never mind asking for those Redskins tickets, either; they aren't leaving the family. Not surprisingly, when word got out that Haines was leaving, a lot of callers congratulated him . . . and then asked about the tickets.
Talk about the consummate golf professional and you are talking about John Haines.
A Lebanon, Pa., native, he began caddying at Lebanon Country Club when he was 7, and, in his words, "fell in love with golf."
His professional career began as an assistant to George Pigott at Andrews Air Force Base, and he went from there to Goose Creek to Hunt Valley. Perhaps his most important attribute as a club pro is his knack for making his members feel important, letting them know whatever they have to say is important to him, too.
Haines was a leader in the MAPGA, an organization he served actively for some 23 years. Along the way, there was a lot of committee work, and eight years on the Executive Committee, two of them as president. Among his souvenirs are awards as the Section Professional of the Year, and the special President's Award, as well as honors for club relations and education.
He departs with at least one concern for the area.
"I've spent 20 years here, and as nice as Baltimore has been to me [and vice-versa], I'd like to see the locals be more forceful with the politicians about getting new courses built -- something that is sorely needed."
Chip shots: John Merchant, of Wilton, Conn., one of three new members elected to the Executive Committee of the U.S. Golf Association, will be the featured speaker when the Middle Atlantic Golf Association holds its annual dinner meeting Friday at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase. Baltimoreans Evelyn Glick and Mary Ann Cooke will be honored for their long and meritorious careers. . . . Nancy Maunder, formerly of Lake Arbor, is the new head professional at Montgomery Village GC. . . . Entries are out for the annual team matches of the Maryland State Golf Association. The weekend dates are April 4-5, 11-12, 18, and 25.
TPC-Avenel has been named to the Top 20 in the private country club division of the annual awards by Golf Shop Operations. Business performance, appearance, service and promotion are the basic criteria. . . . Golf Holiday, the Myrtle Beach, S.C., owner of The DuPont World Amateur Handicap Championship, reports the five-day event last August brought more than $5.1 million to that area's economy.