Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Home Course: Bill Haas

Posted 7/22/2012 11:49:00 AM

It’s not easy establishing your own reputation on the PGA Tour when your father is recognized as one of the Tour’s all-time good guys, but Bill Haas has done just that the past two years, becoming one of the top players – and one of the wealthiest – in professional golf.

Like his dad Jay Haas, Bill was an All-American at Wake Forest, but his dad was also the 1975 NCAA Tournament medalist; Bill had to “settle” for being voted NCAA player of the year in 2004. Predicted to be an instant success as a professional, he failed in his first attempt at Q-school and spent a year on the Nationwide Tour, where he earned his “big tour” card.

And for the first four years, the younger Haas was frustrated by near-misses, twice finishing third in tournaments. But everything came together in 2010, when he won two titles (Bob Hope Classic, Viking Classic), and in 2011, when he outlasted Hunter Mahan in a three-hole playoff to capture the Tour Championship – and also finished first in the FedEx Cup playoffs, a double payday worth a staggering $11.44 million.

He’s still his father’s son, though. Asked after his huge payday if he had any plans for the money, Haas noted that he and his new wife, Julie, were already building a home. “I guess maybe we can add a pool now,” he said. He also expressed a desire to purchase a vintage 1960s Ford Mustang – a car his dad might’ve owned back in the day.

The Haas clan is all about golf. Besides Bill and Jay, Bill’s caddie is his older brother Jay Jr., who played at Augusta State and on mini-tours, and Jay’s uncle is Bob Goalby, winner of the 1968 Masters. Bill maintains his ties to Greenville and the upstate, but confesses to a love of South Carolina beaches – and , indeed, many things about his home state.

Haas talked about all that at the recent U.S. Open -- this, after missing the 36-hole cut by a single stroke. In other words, he’s as nice a guy as his dad, too.

Hometown: Greenville

Bio: Younger son of PGA Tour and Champions Tour veteran Jay Haas; was All-American and won NCAA player of the year honors at Wake Forest; he and wife Julie are building a home on Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer course.

Highlights: Has won four times on PGA Tour since 2010, including last year’s Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, and this year’s Northern Trust Open; chosen as captain’s pick for 2011 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Where I play: “Up around Greenville, the Cliffs courses are all really good. The course that I grew up on, Thornblade, is a great test; they play the (Nationwide Tour’s) BMW Charity Pro-Am there. And another course in that rotation is Chanticleer, that’s where my wife and I are building, and I enjoy that golf course.

“There’s plenty of good golf in the Upstate, but I think South Carolina is one of the golf meccas around the country, especially around the coast. If you want to go play a lot of golf, certainly the South Carolina coast has everything you need.

“Obviously the Ocean Course at Kiawah is really sweet, but the River Course there is really good, too. Secession Club in (Beaufort) is really good, and Sage Valley near Aiken is a good golf course, fun to play. There’s plenty of them.”

Where I eat: “Luckily in the last 15 years or so, Greenville downtown has really turned the corner and got a lot of good restaurants – not chains, but unique spots to go to. When we’re home, we pick a night, go out and always find good food. The Lazy Goat is a good spot, more of a tapas kind of place. Rick Erwin’s is a good steakhouse, and he also owns a new seafood place Nantucket, at the bottom of the new Marriott downtown. High Cotton uptown is good, too.

“And there’s Charlie’s Barbecue in Greenville, we go there a lot when we’re home. Soby’s is a great place for sandwiches. We’re just really lucky in Greenville.”

What I do for fun: “My parents have a beach house just north of Georgetown in a place called Prince George, and as a family we like to go there. My wife’s family has a beach trip there every summer, they go to Pawleys Island, that’s something we try to do and look forward to every summer.

“I enjoy both hunting and fishing. I’m just now starting to get into hunting through my wife’s side of the family. Her sisters’ husbands both like to hunt, and they’ve got some property in Union, S.C., and we’ll go there and do some bird hunting; they’ve also got deer stands and everything. I’m just now getting into that.

“I’ve always liked to fish. Inshore ocean fishing is probably my favorite; I prefer to ocean fish just because there’s so much there. Certainly, (inland) bass fishing is fun, but if I had to pick anything, it would be fishing in the inlets of the ocean, trying to catch redfish and flounder. I really enjoy that.”