Who has the Best Story from this week's PGA Championship? Probably Bill Haas

Posted: August 13, 2010

Standing on the edge of the Whistling Straits practice green Tuesday morning, Titleist Brand Ambassador Bill Haas watched as his caddie Michael Maness furiously scrubbed away specks of red paint and green scuff marks from the bottom of one of Haas' Vokey Spin Milled wedges.

"How the heck did that happen?" one passerby remarked. Haas smiled. As he started to tell the story, a few others moved in closer to listen, including Titleist's Bob Vokey, who had stopped by to talk wedges.

For the record, there are no artificial golf mats or red-ringed range balls here at the PGA Championship, only bent grass and dune grass and a lot of grass in general, not to mention piles and piles of brand new golf balls.

But Haas took his first swings of the week in a different location, right off Interstate 94 at the Raymond Heights Golf Center, a 9-hole par-3 course and driving range just south of Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport, from where Haas had to pick up his girlfriend around 8 o'clock Monday night.

Leaving from downtown Chicago, Haas hit the road a bit early to avoid Monday's rush-hour traffic. A bit too early, perhaps.

"Well, I have three hours to kill," Haas thought as he crossed Milwaukee city lines. "What do I do?"

Feeling a bit stiff after a workout that morning, Haas typed "driving range" into the Google AroundMe app on his mobile phone. "Raymond Heights Golf Center" popped up. Minutes later, Raymond Heights' large billboard appeared on the side of I-94, and Haas put his blinker on.

"Might as well hit some balls," Haas thought.

He pulled his clubs out of the rental car, then walked into the pro shop. He asked for a large bucket. The man behind the counter, 52-year-old owner Tim Stare, told him it was $6.50. Haas handed over the cash.

Stare gave Haas his change and a punch card for a free bucket of balls with the purchase of 10 buckets.

"Oh, I'm not from here," Haas told him. "Don't use it on me."

Stare paused for a second, staring at his customer. "Are you from South Carolina?" he asked Haas.


"Your dad is Jay, right?"


"You're Bill Haas!"

A bit awestruck, Haas, wearing just shorts and a brown T-shirt, said "Yeah, I am."

Stare shook his head. "I caddied for your dad in the 1975 U.S. Open at Medinah," he said. "Did he send you here?"


Haas said a lot of people tell him that they know his father, nine-time PGA Tour winner and fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador Jay Haas, "but they've usually just met him once or whatever."

Stare first met Jay at the 1975 U.S. Open, when players were still using local caddies. Stare was working then at Oak Park Golf Club, and received his assignment for Medinah in a random drawing. Playing as an amateur, Jay finished tied for 18th that week (74-69-72-78) with Stare on the bag, and the pair made a point to keep in touch.

Every year, Stare received the Haas family Christmas card and put it on his refrigerator. Many years later, Jay did a clinic at Raymond Heights during the week of the Greater Milwaukee Open.

Stare said it clicked it for him the second he heard Bill Haas' Southern drawl. "I've seen you grow up on my fridge," Stare told him.

After the talk, Bill headed out to hit balls. Stare eventually walked out with another bucket of balls, having hand-picked the best of the bunch.

Bill called his father soon after, leaving the following message on his voicemail: "Raymond Heights driving range. Where is it, and have you ever been?"

When Jay called back later, these were the first words out of his mouth: "Is it about five miles south of the Milwaukee airport?"

"He knew exactly what I was talking about," Bill said.

Bill said "the most random part about it" is that he rarely stops anywhere on the way to tournaments, preferring to just get there as soon as possible. Dad knows that, too.

"What are the odds that you would stop at that driving range on the way up there?" Jay said. "That's cool."

Like in a Haas family Christmas card hanging on Stare's fridge, both father and son were smiling.

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Robert Sellman

i followed bill at the bridgestone invitational this past weekend. boy does he have a beautiful swing and i watched him knock in an awesome sand shot too. i have his father's autograph from the memorial tournament from years ago. i hear his dad does great on the senior tour. i hope bill wins more tournaments very soon. he played well at firestone. i really enjoyed watching him play.

Robert Sellman

Well written piece!  Very accurate and entertaining.  No one was more surprised than I when Bill walked in.  I thought for sure Jay told him to stop if he was going by.  What a small world.  Being associated with the golf industry since I was a child has certainly given me the opportunity to be part of a fraternity or (mostly) great people, Jay Haas being at the top of my list of all time "nice guys".  Looks to me like Bill is not far behind the old man in the "nice guy" derby. 

Jay and I had quite a week in '75 at Medinah.  Two kids (17 and 20 or so) seemingly in over our heads.  But Jay played magnificently all week until he backed up on Sunday as did most of the field.  The thrill of the week for both of us was being paired with Jack Nicklaus on Saturday.  Talk about nerves!  I was probably more nervous than Jay was though, as he kept his head all day and played well in the presence of the greatest player of all time.

It was a day and a week I will never forget, and Jay's great personality made it all the more enjoyable.  I'll never forget him apologizing for not being able to pay me more than he did.  Hey, he was a college kid like all other college kids.  I had so much fun that week I wouldn't have cared if he paid me at all!  

Robert Sellman

What a cool story!

Ryan Crysler

What a great story!  And the Haas' are model gentlemen.

Charles S

That's a nice story. Small world isn't it.. What are the odds of this happening.

Jay and Bill are class individuals.

steve o


Robert Sellman

I was in the same time warp several years back with a 4 hour window to catch a plane back to Dayton, OH.  I asked about a place to hit balls at a nearby country club in January, and he gave me directions to this place.  I had a great time and spent a few hours working on my wedge game for the upcoming season.

David C

Great story.  Just shows how small the golf world is.

Robert Sellman

There is a reason they where ment to bump into each other.  Call it fate, destiney, or whatever.  What a cool story.  


That is a great story.