More than 100 courses have hosted the Masters, US Open, Open and US PGA – and Joey Hines has played every single one of them. He’s got the scorecards to prove it, as well as 38 years of incredible stories covering everywhere from Augusta to Royal Portrush…
Joey Hines is just a golf nut at heart. A PGA pro by trade, he’s competed on the same tour as Seve Ballesteros, shot rounds of 70 at Medinah and Pinehurst No.2, and achieved something so unique that no other player is ever likely to come close to matching.
It’s taken him 38 years, but he can now claim to have played every active golf course that has ever hosted a Major championship – despite the fact he’s never qualified for one. “I’ve played them all, except three which are no longer in existence,” he tells us.
It’s a journey which has cost him around $125,000 and taken him to 34 US states, four countries and 119 golf clubs. Along the way, he’s battled hurricanes and snow, met Hollywood star Colin Firth and finished playing Bethpage Black in total darkness after a six-hour round with friends. “I never found my tee shot on the 18th,” he laughs.
He finally completed his quest on June 11 this year, at Shawnee in Pennsylvania, months after recovering from throat cancer. Future Major venues, up to 2023, have already been checked off, so naturally he’s started to plot his next challenge which will take him to places like Valderrama, The Belfry, Celtic Manor and Gleneagles…
“It all started in 1981 when I got a job at Northwood Golf Club in Dallas, which hosted the 1952 US Open. I guess that was the official birth of my initial quest to play all the US Open courses. Being a pro gave me the accessibility to play the famous names, like Pebble Beach and PGA National, and I soon realised most of the courses I’d played had hosted Major tournaments.
“It wasn’t until I took a job at my home club, Cape Fear Country Club, in 1991 that things really took off. The members got me involved in an annual trip, so I started playing three or four former US Open venues every year. When I did have a few days away from work, I would then fly to Philadelphia to play a couple, or Boston, or Chicago. I tried to clip them off whenever I could.
“When I completed all the US Open courses in 2011, I thought that was it. But friends and family kept pushing and told me, ‘You’ve got to do them all’. That’s when I started on my PGA run. My British Open run started much earlier. In 1984, I played Turnberry, Troon, Prestwick, St Andrews and Carnoustie. I’ve now done five trips over there, including England and Ireland to make sure I had all the 14 courses from The Open rotation.
“My last trip to Britain was in June 2018. I set it up to go with 12 members in September 2017 and then got diagnosed with throat cancer in February 2018. The doctor told me the situation but I told him, ‘You do what you’ve got to do, but I’m going on this trip’. We started treatment on February 28, and I played my last nine holes on the 1st of March. I finished my treatment in late April and hit my first dozen balls the day before I left for Scotland. I had no idea whether I would be able to play.
“I needed to play Portrush and Musselburgh, but fortunately the adrenaline took over. I was able to play and walk eight-and-a-half courses, which was 52 miles on a little pedometer we had with us. I’m not sure how I did it, but my last round was at Carnoustie, just three weeks prior to The Open being played there. All the grandstands were up, and I managed to sneak out a 75 on one of the hardest golf courses in the world. That’s as good as a cancer survivor could ever hope to be able to do.
“It took a lot of time to go to all these places and they’re not inexpensive. I’m not sure I could put an accurate number on it, but when you throw in caddie fees, green fees and air fares, it’s got to be probably in the $125,000 range. But I didn’t do this for the notoriety; I did it for my own greed because I just love playing good golf courses.
“I’ve played Pebble Beach a number of times, and the price has gone up each time. I played it in December and I think my green fee was supposedly discounted, though I’m not sure about that. It was $595 for the green fee and $150 for the caddie. When you throw in everything else – the drinks, the food, accessories etc – it was pretty close to $950 for the day.
“It took a number of years before I could play Augusta. I didn’t think I’d ever get on, but I had a close friend who had lived near Augusta for a number of years. His mother was very close to the starter, Phil Harrison, and he couldn’t have been more generous in allowing us to come and play one morning eight or nine years ago. It was everything I dreamt it would be.
“What people don’t realise about Augusta is there are two sets of tees. The Masters tees, which are in the 7,400-7,500 range, and the members’ tees which are around 6,100/6,200. You either go big or play a golf course which isn’t as similar to the one on TV. I decided I wanted the big-boy experience. It was a pretty challenging day for me!
“The lowest round I’ve had was a 65 at Northwood. I played Medinah and shot 70 there. I did the same at Pinehurst, and shot 72 at Aronimink. Over your way, I had a 73 at the Old Course and a 75 at Carnoustie in 2018.
“The weather has definitely been a frustrating part. Many times I’ve had a round of golf booked and missed it because my flight’s been delayed or cancelled, or I’ve missed a connection. One of the last courses I had to play was called the Park Club of Buffalo (host of the 1934 PGA Championship). I bought four plane tickets before I could finally go up there. The first time the airline had a mechanical failure; the second there was a hurricane; and the third the golf course was closed because of flooding.
“Chicago Golf Club was probably the hardest to get on. They’ve only got 112 members and you must play with a member. No exceptions. The number of times I had that set up… I had problems where a member changed the tee time; the next year a big thunderstorm came and we sat there from 9.30 in the morning to 2.30 in the afternoon and it never stopped lightning. Again, that took four trips.
“It started snowing pretty good in Southern Hills in Tulsa. Even the caddies refused to show up that day! It was probably about 35 or 36 degrees. The only other time it snowed was at Champions, down in Houston. I had my daughter travelling with me –she was only 11 or 12 at the time – and it started sleeting when we were out there. She was freezing to death and we had to use my headcovers on her hands. I was carrying my bag and a couple of times we walked backwards down the fairway because it was so cold.
“There are three courses that are not there anymore (Englewood, Pomonok and Pecan Valley), so in total I’ve played 119 Major courses. That includes one called Ridgemoor in Chicago, which the USGA did not want to call the US Open. They called it the Hale America Open, but they ran it exactly like the US Open during the Second World War. Ben Hogan won, got a medallion and always said that he had five US Opens, though the history books always give him four. But I figured if it’s good enough for Hogan to count that course, I’m going to count it, too.
“I knew absolutely nothing about some of the early US Open and PGA venues, but a couple really surprised me which I would recommend. Myopia Hunt Club, just outside Boston, and Newport Golf Club, which held our first US Open, reminded me a lot of playing in Great Britain with the vista looks and ocean right by the holes. I played another course called Blue Mound, up in Milwaukee, which I could play every day and never get bored. And there are two courses in Chicago – Onwentsia and Glen View – which were just great, great golf courses. Most of these the general public wouldn’t have heard of, but the flavour reminded me a lot of the old Scottish courses.
“I finished the quest at a place called Shawnee, up in the mountains in Pennsylvania, in June. I wanted to play it on the Father’s Day weekend, and to have my wife, two daughters and son-in-law with me. There are 27 holes there and I wasn’t sure which ones they used for the PGA, so I went ahead and played the whole thing. I think I shot 40, 37, 38. The emotions of being able to finish were indescribable because of my throat cancer. I didn’t know whether I would play golf again, much less complete the quest. To be able to overcome that and finish with my family by my side is what dreams are made of.
“There are two golf courses I’ve played that are hosting future events for the first time. LA Country Club, which has the US Open in 2023, and Harding Park in San Francisco which is where the 2020 PGA is. Obviously, I played Portrush and I’m pretty much through to 2027, maybe 2028, with the exception of Trump National in New Jersey in 2022. I’ve not played that, but I’ll get that before the tournament!
“I’ve had four golf ball display cases made for my office. Augusta was a simple one; there’s just one golf ball, the emblem of the club, and a copy of my scorecard. Bob Toski donated a replica of the Calamity Jane putter that Bobby Jones used, so that’s in there as well. Two of the other cases have the US Open and US PGA insignia in the middle, with all the balls spread around them. My final case has a stitched emblem of the Claret Jug and then the 14 scorecards around that. My office is kind of my shrine. It makes me proud to have been able to achieve something most golfers would give anything they’ve got to be able to do.
“I did not plan on playing the Ryder Cup courses, but that’s going to be my next goal. There are three golf courses in the US I need. I might even hit one of them this fall. There are six in England, one in Ireland, one in Italy, one in France and one in Spain. It will not happen fast. I still work for a living; I still have my duties at the club [Cape Fear], as the director of golf. But I hope I can complete it in five years.”