U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Memories of Late Husband Inspire Haines at Waverley
September 11, 2017 | PORTLAND, Ore.
By Tom Mackin
George Haines Jr. once gave his wife Liz some advice for whenever she played in a USGA championship: always write your name legibly on the players’ scroll that is gifted to the host club. Too many people just scribble it in, he told her, and you never know who will look at it in the future.
She has done as he advised in more than 30 USGA championships, before and since he died in 2008 at age 64.
During this week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Waverley Country Club, she saw proof that he did, too. His clearly written signature is the 15th name in the first column of the 1970 U.S. Amateur player scroll hanging on a wall just inside the front doors of the clubhouse.
George finished tied for 18th in the Amateur at Waverley in 1970, 11 strokes behind winner Lanny Wadkins, in a field that also included Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.
“It was the first thing I wanted to see when I got here on Wednesday,” said Liz, 69. “I found out where the scroll was, saw his name and emailed his two sisters and brother a picture of the signature. They got a kick out of that.”
She also brought some very special documents from her home in Gladwyne, Pa.: meticulous yardage maps her husband drew and used during the 1970 U.S. Amateur.
“I wanted to qualify for this championship first, so I didn’t dare look for them before that happened,” said Haines, who was medalist in sectional qualifying at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Pa. “After I did, I went through some boxes of the many course maps he made. When I found the ones he did at Waverley, I started to cry.”
She donated the five pieces of paper to the club’s archives.
“I think they’re very special,” she said. “This would be as good a home as any for them. I was excited to bring them. It was emotionally important for me.”
The couple, who met at the University of Pennsylvania and got married in 1977, played a great deal of golf together at both 2013 U.S. Open venue Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., and Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, N.J.
“We were very lucky to play at two wonderful places,” she said. “We have four grandchildren, so I’m hoping to pass the golf tradition to the next generation.”
George, who grew up in Far Hills, N.J., the same town where USGA headquarters is located, won two New Jersey State Amateurs, played in 10 U.S. Amateurs, seven Amateur Championships, conducted by The R&A, and 20 Canadian Amateurs. He also qualified for the 1968 U.S. Open at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY.
From the mid-1970s until the 1990s, he authored The Golf School historical section of Golf Journal, formerly the USGA’s official publication.
Liz played on the victorious Pennsylvania team with Carol Semple Thompson and July Oliver in the inaugural USGA Women’s State Team Championship in 1995 at Lake Buena Vista (Fla.) Club. In 2001, she reached the semifinals of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, and three years later was runner-up in the championship, losing to Carolyn Creekmore, one of her playing partners in stroke play this week at Waverley Country Club.
Haines, who did not advance to match play this week, found her mind drifting to memories of her husband.
“I’m thinking what he saw is what I’m seeing,” she said. “He was a real student of the game and appreciated the history. I’m sure he would have liked to have seen me here. I now have a very special memory.”
Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.