Deacon Spotlight: Bill Haas
Aug. 21, 2017
Wake Forest Athletic Communications (@DemonDeacons)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – For many collegiate athletic programs, the sense of family is strong. Yet very few programs are so closely connected to an actual family the way that the Haas family has influenced Wake Forest golf.
Before he made his mark on the PGA Tour, Bill Haas (’08) was a second-generation star for the Demon Deacons. He followed in the footsteps of his father Jay (’76) and uncle Jerry (’85), the latter who has been the head coach of the program for the past 21 seasons.
Bill Haas grew up wearing the Old Gold and Black while watching his father have a successful career on the PGA Tour. So when he was being recruited by his uncle to continue the family tradition of playing for the Demon Deacons, it was an easy choice.
“I don’t think I had any added pressure to go to Wake, but I think I had my own expectations to go there,” said Bill. “I had always wanted to be a Deacon when I was a kid, but when my uncle got the job as the coach, it made it even more of a reason that I wanted to go. A lot of kids might say that they wouldn’t want to go there because of that legacy and trying to live up to it, but it really made me want to go there.”
The decision paid off as Bill Haas became one of the nation’s most dominant collegiate golfers from 2001-04. A two-time ACC Player of the Year, he was the consensus national player of the year as a senior in 2004 when he set a school-record with a 68.93 scoring average. He still holds three of the top six single-season scoring averages in Wake Forest history and the school career scoring record of 70.87.
“Obviously, golf was a big part of my time at Wake Forest and not just because my uncle was my coach,” said Bill. “I left with some lifelong friends and some great memories. Playing at Wake Forest helped me prepare for a career on tour. I would go back to Wake tomorrow if I could.”
Haas has won six times on the PGA Tour since turning pro following his 2004 graduation. His career has included winning the FedEx Cup in 2011 and clinching the 2016 Presidents Cup victory for the United States, a team captained by his father. While the current Demon Deacons constantly follow the pro success of alumni on the PGA Tour, Haas is quick to mention that the support goes in both directions. “I still follow the team and I’m always checking the scores when I know they have a tournament,” said Bill. “I check in with my uncle and see how everyone is playing. I really want them to have a lot of success.”
Last spring, a week off gave Haas an opportunity to cheer on the Deacons in person at the ACC Championship, which was held at Musgrove Mill Golf Club, just down the road from his home in Greenville, S.C.
“It was fun to be able to see them play in person and I wish I was able to see them play more often,” said Bill. “It is so nice to see how talented collegiate golfers are these days, not just the Wake guys but the sport in general. The level of play is so high right now. College golf is a great proving ground for becoming a professional.”
One of the reasons the Deacons have had success in recent years are the facilities that have been built on campus. The Arnold Palmer Golf Complex, which includes the new Haddock House and a practice range named in honor of the Haas family, is the gold standard in collegiate golf.
“When I go back to Wake, I see all the improvements that have been made to help the guys,” said Bill. “The Mercedes-Benz van they travel in is incredible. The new facilities, with their locker room, is second to none. We have always had the range on campus, which is a unique feature, but that new center is awesome. It gives me another reason why I wish I could go back right now and do it again.”
While some of those amenities might not have existed when Bill Haas played collegiately, they will help the Demon Deacons for future generations. Perhaps that future includes another generation of the Haas family.
“I try to visit when I am in the area and I love seeing how much the campus keeps changing and growing.,” said Bill. “Hopefully one day my kids will want to go there too.”
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