Jimmy Hines: 1930s Tour Winner, Golf Cart Pioneer

golf Jimmy Hines swinging a golf club

Jimmy Hines was a professional golfer who won nine times on the PGA Tour, mostly in the 1930s. After his tour career ended, he had a hand, as a club pro, investor and developer, in the popularizing of electric carts, the advent of the daily-fee model for American golf courses, and the growth of golf in the California desert.

Full name: James Joseph Hines

Date of birth: December 29, 1903

Place of birth: Mineola, New York

Date and place of death: May 11, 1986, in Monterey, California

His Biggest Wins

Hines is credited with nine official wins on the PGA Tour:
  • 1933 Glens Falls Open
  • 1935 St. Augustine Pro-Amateur
  • 1936 Riverside Open
  • 1936 Los Angeles Open
  • 1936 Glens Falls Open
  • 1937 Metropolitan Open
  • 1947 Glens Falls Open
  • 1938 Metropolitan Open
  • 1945 Tacoma Open
Outside of the PGA Tour, Hines won the Long Island Open in 1935, the Long Island PGA Championship in 1937, 1940 and 1941, and the Arizona Open in 1949.

In the Majors

Hines did not win a major championship title, but he twice reached the semifinals of the PGA Championship in that major's match-play era.

In the 1933 PGA Championship, Hines defeated Tom Creavy (1931 champ) in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Hines lost to Willie Goggin, 1-down.

Hines' run in the 1938 PGA Championship included one specific stroke that gained a lot of attention at the time. It happened in his semifinal match against Sam Snead. (To get into the semifinals, Hines had beaten two-time defending champion Denny Shute in the third round, then Byron Nelson in the quarterfinals.)

In his book The Education of a Golfer (affiliate link), Snead wrote that Hines "had me the next thing to whipped" when the match reached the 14th green in the afternoon part of the 36-hole match. Snead was laying two and had also laid a stymie for Hines. That meant Snead's ball (which wasn't lifted in those days) was blocking Hines' path to the cup on his own putt.

"Unable to bend a putt around mine," Snead wrote, "Hines used a niblick to chip over my ball. He pulled off a beautiful shot — straight into the cup from three feet."

But something odd happened, too: As Hines' ball passed over the top of Snead's, it grazed Snead's ball. Snead's ball started rolling, too, and, Snead wrote, "we both stood there dumbfounded when it (Snead's ball) followed his ball into the hole."

That "freak of chance," Snead said, inspired his comeback victory. He played the 15th through 18th holes, the last four holes of the match, in nothing but 3s and beat Hines, 1-up.

In other majors, Hines shared the first-round lead in the inguagural Masters Tournament in 1934 before finishing tied for seventh, which remained his best showing in that major. His best finish in a U.S. Open, and his only Top 10 in that major, was tied 8th in 1934.

Overall, Hines had 12 Top 10 finishes in majors. In addition to his two semifinal runs in the PGA Championship, Hines also reached the quarterfinals in 1936, 1937 and 1941 (technically a tie for fifth) and the Round of 16 (tie for ninth) in 1940 and 1944. In The Masters, Hines tied ninth in 1935, and tied 10th in 1937 and 1938.

More About Jimmy Hines

Jimmy Hines was one of the tour's long drivers during his heyday in the 1930s. Snead once referred to Hines as a "howitzer," and recalled beating him and some of the tour's other big hitters in a long-drive contest as one of the early thrills in his career.

But in the 1940 instructional book Golfmasters: A Sure Way to Better Golf (affiliate link), in which 14 "golf masters" each contributed a chapter focused on a single golf club, Hines authored the chapter on the 6-iron. (Jimmy Thomson, another "howitzer," got the driver.)

All of Hines' tour victories except the last one happened in the six seasons from 1933 through 1938. And five of them were in two New York tournaments: Hines won the Glens Falls Open three times and the Metropolitan Open twice. (A native New Yorker, Hines had started in the game by caddying at club on Long Island.)

His biggest year was 1936, when he won three times. That year included the biggest of his nine PGA Tour wins, the Los Angeles Open. Hines beat the runners-up, Thomson and Henry Picard, by four strokes.

Hines' last win on tour, and the only one outside of the 1930s, was in the 1945 Tacoma Open. Forty-one years old at the time, Hines finished one stroke ahead of Jug McSpaden.

Hines stopped regularly playing the tour after 1947. But his final appearance on the PGA Tour didn't happen until 1960, the year he turned 57, when he played two tournaments in California. PGA Tour statistics show Hines started 284 official tour events. In addition to his nine victories, he was runner-up six times and finished third 15 times. Hines had 64 Top 5 finishes on the tour, with 131 Top 10 finishes.

Hines never played in the Ryder Cup, even though he earned a spot on the 1939 Team USA squad. But that Ryder Cup was canceled due to World War II.

He also served as chairman of the PGA Tournament Committee in the 1940s.

Throughout his career, Hines held titles as a club pro or director of golf at various golf courses. In New York, those included Hempstead Golf Club, Timber Point in Great River, and Garden City Golf Club. In 1937 he took over as head pro at Lakeville Golf Club in Massachusetts and by the early 1940s was back in New York at Amsterdam Municipal.

Hines moved to Chicago in the 1940s as the head pro at North Shore Country Club. That's where he was when former amateur champ Johnny Dawson, developer of Thunderbird Country Club in the Palm Springs, California, area, hired Hines to works summers at Thunderbird.

Hines eventually headed to California full time. And Hines and Dawson eventually became business partners in several developments that helped the Coachella Valley become a hotspot for luxury golf developments.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Hines got into golf course design and construction (often with Dawson involved in the business side). Courses Hines helped create included Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif.; Del Safari Country Club (now called Avondale Golf Club) in Palm Desert, Calif.; Friendly Hills Country Club in Whittier, Calif.; plus Royal Lahaina Hotel and Golf Club at Kaanapali Beach, Hawaii.

When Hines died at the age of 82 in 1986, the Associated Press obituary referred to him as "one of the early developers of the electric golf cart." You can even find books, magazine articles and articles on the internet that refer to Hines as the inventor of electric golf carts. This is not true. What is true is that, during his time as director of golf at Thunderbird, Hines invested his own money in popularizing electric golf carts and pushing them into mainstream usage at golf clubs, and developed many of the methods for servicing and mainting golf cart fleets that are still used today.

A 1955 article in Golfdom magazine stated that Hines had invested more than $50,000 of his own money in the club's 150-cart fleet. Much of that went into building what might have been the first purpose-built "cart barn" in golf: A large, open building where carts were stored overnight or taken for maintenance, complete with charging stations.

Hines was also involved in pioneering the daily-fee model of high-end golf courses in the United States as one of the investors in Pauma Valley (Calif.) Golf Course, whose model of an expensive-to-build, high-end golf facility that was not private-membership-based drew a lot of attention when it opened in 1961.

Photo credit: ©UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections / licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Sources:
(Book titles are affiliate links; commissions earned)
Associated Press. "Jimmy Hines, golf course designer, dies at age 82," Palm Springs Desert Sun, May 13, 1986, https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=DS19860513.2.111.
Bohannan, Larry. Palm Springs Golf: A History of Coachella Valley Legends & Fairways, 2015, The History Press.
Brenner, Morgan. The Majors of Golf, Volume 2, 2009, McFarland and Company.
Conner, Floyd. Golf's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Golf's Outrageous Duffers, Deadly Divots and Other Oddities, 2001, Brassey's Inc.
Dougherty, Pete. "Best golfer ever to call the Capital Region home? Don't forget Jimmy Hines," Albany Times-Union, May 23, 2023, https://www.timesunion.com/sports/article/best-golfer-call-capital-region-home-don-t-18108877.php
Elliott, Len, and Kelly, Barbara. Who's Who in Golf, 1976, Arlington House Publishers.
Hagen, Howard. "Sand, sand, sand!" Golfdom, January 1961, https://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/golfd/article/1961jan36.pdf.
Golfdom. "Hines has biggest golf car operation," October 1955, https://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/golfd/article/1955oct88.pdf.
PGA of America. PGA Media Guide 2012, 1938 PGA Championship.
PGATour.com. Players, "Jimmy Hines," https://www.pgatour.com/player/15649/jimmy-hines.
Snead, Sam, with Stump, Al. The Education of a Golfer, 1962, Simon and Schuster.

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