Joey Hines has done something no one else has – at least that we know of. Hines, a 60-year-old PGA professional, has played every single course that has hosted a men’s major championship.
Before he realized what he was doing, this improbable journey – a bucket-list dream for many serious players – began in 1981 when he played Pinehurst No. 2, which hosted the 1936 PGA Championship and would eventually host multiple U.S. Opens (1999, 2005, 2014). He completed a 38-year, 119-course odyssey last month by playing Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., site of the 1938 PGA Championship.
“It was a dream I never planned on having,” said Hines, who has been the director of golf at Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, N.C., since 1990.
After graduating from Eastern Carolina University, Hines got his first job as a PGA professional at the Northwood Club in Dallas. Northwood was a place he had never seen before, manicured and incredibly challenging. It also hosted the 1952 U.S. Open
Hines wanted to keep playing “quality courses” like Northwood. So he did. Then, in an “ah-ha” moment, he realized how many of those quality courses had hosted U.S. Opens. From that moment forward, he set the goal of playing all the U.S. Open venues.
“I was clipping them off geographically at first and then I realized after a few years what I was doing. I went west in 2011 for the last of the U.S. Open courses and I said to myself, ‘I have to be done.’ But I wasn’t.” – Joey Hines
“The members (at Cape Fear) like to go on golf trips every summer,” Hines said. “One year we did Shinnecock (Hills), the National (Golf Links of America), Merion, Aronimink and Baltusrol. I had never seen anything like this in my life.
“The next summer I crossed off The Country Club of Brookline, and then the summer after that we did what I like to call the Ohio region and we played Muirfield Village, Firestone, Inverness, Canterbury and Oakmont.
“I was clipping them off geographically at first and then I realized after a few years what I was doing. I went west in 2011 for the last of the U.S. Open courses and I said to myself, ‘I have to be done.’ But I wasn’t.”
When he finished he needed another bucket list. So, he decided to play all of the major championship courses. Hines had played Augusta National in 2008, thanks to a friend who knew longtime member and former Masters Tournament starter Phil Harison. Harison took Hines down Magnolia Lane and regaled him with stories from his years as the starter and a club member. It was one of Harison’s last strolls around the course before he died at 82.
Hines had to travel overseas to play the 14 courses that have hosted the Open Championship. The PGA Championship, however, had been played at 70 U.S. courses to that point, 20 of which Hines had already played. He had 50 to go. The race was on.
In 2012, Hines began his trips across the Atlantic to play the Open Championship rota. He finished last summer, but not without a health crisis.
Hines was diagnosed last year with throat cancer. He’s in remission now, but the disease knocked him down when he least expected it. He lost weight, strength and swing speed.
“I walked all of the golf courses,” he said. “I think adrenaline carried me through it. I’m so grateful just a year later to be talking about it.”
Besides battling cancer, he encountered multiple travel issues.
The most recent one stuck out. “A hurricane moved through Wilmington last year and no one could get in or out,” Hines said. He was trying to get to Williamsville, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo, to play Park Country Club, which hosted the 1934 PGA Championship.
Throughout his quest, gaining access to courses at private clubs was a challenge, and Hines relied heavily on the courtesy other PGA members.
“They were very accommodating whenever I would come and play but they have their rules,” he said. “It’s very limited play from non-members (at most private courses). You needed to know a member to play out there.”
After completing his journey at Shawnee last month, Hines plans to continue to play championship courses. As for the next item on his bucket list?
“Everyone had such a great time (at Shawnee),” he said. “ ‘Now what are you gonna do?’ everyone asked and I said, ‘I’m going back to work. It’s what I do, I’m a golf professional.’ But really everyone was asking, ‘What’s my next bucket list?’ Maybe the Ryder Cup courses, I said.”
“Possibly,” he said, chuckling.
Joey Hines completed a 38-year, 119-course odyssey last month by playing Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., site of the 1938 PGA Championship. Courtesy Photo
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