(Photo by Rich Schultz/The Philadelphia Inquirer)
The 60-year-old Director of Golf at the Wilmington, N.C. club recently completed 27 holes at The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Pennsylvania (site of the 1938 PGA Championship), to complete a nearly 30-year odyssey that has seen him play all 118 courses that have hosted golf’s four majors. To his knowledge, Hines is the only one to have accomplished the feat.
After two-putting from 18 feet for par at the 230-yard, par-3 18th hole at The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., Joey Hines, Director of Golf at Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington, N.C. looked up at the blue skies that had pushed aside the last afternoon clouds, then toward a verdant Pocono Mountains hillside, and finally down at the river that bisects the resort’s historic golf course about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
At that moment, The Inquirer reported, Shawnee, where Paul Runyan won his second PGA Championship in 1938 by defeating Sam Snead in the match-play final, had added another distinction. The property that includes the first course designed by famed golf architect A.W. Tillinghast (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/rolling-on-the-river/) had now also become the endpoint in a daunting project that consumed nearly half of Hines’s 60 years.
When he lifted his ball from that hole, in view of the family members who golfed along with him, and with Shawnee’s white clubhouse (where Arnold Palmer met his first wife in 1954) in the background, Hines had completed his nearly 30-year quest to play all 118 courses that have hosted golf’s four major tournaments, The Inquirer reported.
“It was a dream I never planned on having,” Hines said afterward. “And I finished it on a perfect blue-sky day, surrounded by family. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Geographically, The Inquirer reported, Hines’ golfing odyssey stretched from Pebble Beach in California to Carnoustie in Scotland. Chronologically, it began in 1990 at the Northwood Club in Dallas (site of the 1952 U.S. Open) and finished on June 14 at Shawnee.
Hines’ scores over the 29 years, The Inquirer reported, ranged from a 66 at Northwood to an 87 at Hazeltine National Golf Club, and included impressive 70s at Pinehurst No. 2 and Medinah Country Club.
His round at Shawnee marked the first time Hines had been joined by his entire family: his wife, two daughters and son-in-law, The Inquirer reported. That wasn’t because the round had added significance, but rather because Father’s Day was approaching and his older daughter, Leigh Wallace Dodd, lives in New York City.
Along the way, The Inquirer reported, Hines has played with course-maintenance workers, club pros, and members from Cape Fear CC. He’s had to overcome hurricanes, club restrictions, countless travel snafus and, just last year, throat cancer.
“The cancer kind of scared me to the point that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish this quest,” he said. “I’d set up a trip a year in advance to go to Scotland. Then I got a call from my doctor telling me I had throat cancer. You hear those words, and everything else becomes secondary.”
Though doctors advised against it, The Inquirer reported, Hines insisted on making the overseas excursion. When treatments made him so weak he couldn’t hit a golf ball for four months, he arranged for carts at the Scottish courses.
“But I got there, the adrenaline took over,” he said. “I played 8½ courses—one was just nine holes—and walked all of them, made it through. I collapsed afterward, but there was something about it that got me through.
“Now I’m feeling great,” Hines said at Shawnee. “My throat is clear. My doctor told me, `Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t want to see you for six months.’ And I said, `Don’t take this the wrong way, Doc, but I don’t even want to see you then.’ ”
Hines’ obsession with his quest, and the scope of it, has evolved through the decades, The Inquirer reported. At first, he simply was playing quality courses. But when he realized how many had hosted U.S. Opens, he became determined to play them all (50 at this point). When that goal was met in 2011, he decided to supplement it with all of the other major venues.
That wasn’t so difficult for the Masters, contested only at Augusta, or even the British Open, played on just 14 United Kingdom sites. But the PGA? There have been 70 locales, and at that point, he had 50 to go, The Inquirer reported.
One Philadelphia-area club that Hines got to recently was Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa. which hosted the 1958 PGA Championship. The fast greens there gave Hines fits, The Inquirer reported.
Another was Park Country Club in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, N.Y. (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/park-cc-builds-grand-tradition/), where Hines tried unsuccessfully three times to play the 18 that also yielded Paul Runyan a PGA title, in 1934.
“Each time, something happened,” Hines told The Inquirer about his attemps to play at Park CC. “A mechanical failure the first time, a hurricane the second time, severe storms the third. When I finally played it [in the week before he played Shawnee], it was fantastic.”
Now that’s it’s over, Hines hasn’t stopped, The Inquirer reported—and is in fact now working ahead. He’s already played TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, where next year’s PGA will take place, and Royal Portrush, the Northern Ireland links hosting next month’s British Open. He’ll keep playing new venues as they emerge.
And if the golf powers ever add such well-respected but so-far major-less sites as Pine Valley, Cypress Point or Seminole, he’s played them, too.
“If the good Lord is willing, maybe I’ll try to do the Ryder Cup courses next,” Hines said. “That could be a little more challenging. I don’t think I’ve missed more than four or five of the U.S. courses, but I’d have to go to Ireland, England, Spain, Italy, France.”
A few of the venues used for majors over time have disappeared, The Inquirer reported. Most are private, and if Hines didn’t know anyone at the most restrictive clubs, he relied on friends or Cape Fear CC members.
“They’re all very private and very different in their rules and regulations about who gets to play,” he said of those clubs. “Some were easy to get on, and some were pretty daggone challenging. Getting on Baltusrol, Riviera [and] Chicago Golf Club was brutal. Sometimes you had to beg, borrow and cry. But more and more, as time went on, it was, `Well, so-and-so knows a member. You could play there.’ ”
Has anyone else ever done what Hines has? Wherever he goes, he asks that question, he told The Inquirer. To this point, as far as anyone knows, he’s the only one.
“When I ask pros,” Hines said, “they say, `You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Who’s coming to Shawnee? Who’s going to [Park CC] in Buffalo? It’s a lot of traveling, and it’s not an inexpensive habit.”
Hines played all 27 holes at Shawnee—a new nine now intertwines with Tillinghast’s original design—and shot 40-37-38, The Inquirer reported. Before he left, he purchased a golf ball with a logo to add to the memorabilia he’s collected on his long journey, all of which is displayed at Cape Fear CC.
After his daughter picked him up at Newark Airport for the drive to Shawnee, The Inquirer reported, Hines noticed that Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., which will host the 2022 PGA, was nearby. And the wheels started to turn.
“We’ve got some family stuff tomorrow,” Hines said. “But on Sunday, if there’s a tee time there, I might just kind of fly by and play.
“Sooner or later, my body’s not going to let me do this,” he added.