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MARIETTA, Ga. – The Georgia State Golf Association is pleased to announce the 2016 inductees into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame:
• Nanci Bowen of Travelers Rest, S.C., is a former Ladies Professional Golf Association touring player and is currently a teacher of the game of golf;
• Christopher Jay (Chris) Haack of Bogart, Ga., is the Head Coach and Director of Golf at the University of Georgia and his leadership and dedication has built his program into a perennial power;
• Stewart Maiden (posthumous induction) was well-known for his teaching and club building and has been recognized for his expertise of the golf swing;
• James Mason of Dillard, Ga., has enjoyed a successful career as a professional golfer and has made significant contributions to the game;
• C. Layne Williams of Marietta, Ga., is the longtime Senior Director of Rules and Competitions of the Georgia State Golf Association and his knowledge and passion of the Rules of Golf and experience as a golf administrator has made an impact on multiple levels.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Ceremony will take place on Saturday, January 16, 2016, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.
The Atlanta Athletic Club holds a long and storied place in the history of golf in the state of Georgia, as the home club of the greatest amateur golfer of them all, Bobby Jones, along with no less than 14 other members of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. The club hosted its third PGA Championship in 2011, and most recently hosted the U.S. Amateur Championship, its sixth USGA national championship, in 2014.
Chuck Palmer, chairman of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Committee, said, "The Nominating Committee and Hall of Fame Committee, along with Kim Cox, director of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, thoroughly vetted the nominations for the Hall of Fame, and we are elated with the final selections for the 2016 class who will be inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. I appreciate all the committee members who contributed their time and efforts in selecting this terrific class."
Biographical information on the five inductees:
Nanci Bowen, Travelers Rest, S.C.
Nanci Bowen of Travelers Rest, S.C., is a former Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) touring player and is currently teaching golf in Greenville, S.C. As a seasoned golf professional, she brings valuable experience and wisdom to the students she teaches.
Born in Tifton, Ga., Bowen attended Tift County High School. As a junior golfer, she competed in Georgia State Golf Association competitions, winning four consecutive Georgia Girls' Championships along the way. Now in its 36th year, Bowen won the second Girls' Championship played in 1981 at Coosa Country Club in Rome, site of the 2015 event. She then added titles in 1982 (Country Club of Columbus), 1983 (Snapfinger Woods Country Club in Decatur) and 1984 (Houston Lake Country Club in Perry).
Bowen was awarded a full golf scholarship to the University of Georgia, where she was a two-time All-America selection. In 1987, Bowen earned individual runner-up honors at the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship, and in 1989, finished sixth at the NCAA Championship.
During her collegiate career as an amateur golfer, Bowen was a semifinalist at the 1987 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship played at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, Rhode Island. Also as an amateur, she qualified for and competed in five U.S. Women's Open Championships. She was the winner of the 1988 Trans-National Championship.
Bowen turned professional and joined the LPGA Tour in 1990. She captured her first professional victory at the Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1995, one of the LPGA's major championships, and she crossed the $1 million mark in career earnings in 2002. She was a member of the LPGA Tour Player Executive Committee from 1999 to 2001 and served as Vice President in 2001.
Past initiatives Bowen has been involved with include the Nanci Bowen Charity golf event benefitting Hospice, Oncology services and transitional care in Tift County; and a volunteer golf instructor for Kids with Autism (2010-11). She served as Athletic Director at Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., (2007-09).
Bowen currently resides in Travelers Rest, S.C.
Christopher Jay (Chris) Haack, Bogart
Christopher Jay (Chris) Haack of Bogart, Ga., is the Head Coach and Director of Golf at the University of Georgia and his outstanding leadership and dedication has annually made his program a mainstay toward the top of the collegiate golf landscape. He becomes the first collegiate golf coach to be inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
Born in Menasha, Wisconsin, Haack moved to Georgia and attended Newnan High School. He played golf at West Georgia College from 1978 to 1981, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Mellen University in 1997. He began his career in golf with the American Junior Golf Association, and from 1980 to 1996, he held multiple positions including Tournament Director, Director of Operations, Director of Development, Foundation Director and Assistant Executive Director.
Haack was named head golf coach at the University of Georgia in 1996 and has taken the program to a new level of success. He has guided the Bulldogs to two national championships (the only two in school history), seven Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles and several team and individual records. His first Georgia squad in the 1996-1997 season showed glimpses of what was to come as he led the team to finish fourth or better in seven of 11 events and advanced to the regionals of the NCAA Championships. Haack's breakthrough year came in 1998-1999 when his Bulldog team ascended to a number one ranking in national polls, and later validated the ranking by winning the program's first national championship. Haack was named National Coach of the Year that year.
Under Haack, the Bulldogs have had eight top-10 and 14 top-20 finishes at the NCAAs, including the 1999 and 2005 national titles and runner-up honors in 2007 and 2011. He has developed 54 All-Americans during his tenure, including at least one in 16 of the past 17 seasons.
Haack is a two-time National Coach of the Year (1999, 2005), four-time SEC Coach of the Year (1998, 2000, 2006, 2010) and was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2012.
Haack, son Charlie and daughter Katie, currently reside in Bogart, Ga.
Stewert Maiden (posthumous induction)
Stewart Maiden was well-known for his teaching and club building and has been recognized for his expertise of the golf swing. Maiden was born in Angus (Carnoustie), Scotland, in 1886. Following his brothers, he came to the United States, specifically to be the Golf Professional at the East Lake facility, in 1908. He spent nearly 40 years in America, mostly in Georgia, prior to his death in 1948.
Among the golfing legends who Maiden taught include the great Bobby Jones, Alexa Stirling and Perry Adair.
Though his accomplishments and career in the golf industry began well over 100 years ago, his students and all the individuals he impacted will be embedded in Georgia golf history forever.
James Mason, Dillard
James Mason of Dillard, Ga., has enjoyed a successful career as a professional golfer and has made noteworthy contributions to the game.
Mason was born in Gwinnett County, Ga., and attended Duluth High School. He would then walk on to the Auburn University golf team, where he became a four-year letterman. In 1972, he won the Atlanta Amateur Championship (now the Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championship) held at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, which began in 1919 as a stroke play competition for amateur golfers in the Atlanta area.
After his amateur career at Auburn University, Mason went to work at Sky Valley Country Club in Sky Valley, Ga., where he would hold positions of Owner, Manager and PGA Golf Professional from 1975 to 1991.
As a professional, Mason was a fixture in Georgia PGA competitions for a number of years. He won the Georgia Section PGA Team Championship (with Randy Brooks) in 1995. He earned Georgia PGA Player of the Year recognition in 1997, 1998 and 2000, and was Georgia PGA champion in 1997, 1999 and 2000. Also in 1997, Mason won the Polo Classic Golf Championship and qualified for and competed in the PGA Championship held at Winged Foot Country Club. He won the Atlanta Open in 2000.
As a senior golfer, Mason was the Georgia PGA senior champion in 2001. On the Champions Tour, he won the NFL Golf Classic in 2002. In total, Mason competed in nearly 200 Champions Tour events and has earned more than $3 million in career earnings.
Mason, wife Suzie and two sons, Steve and Chris, currently reside in Dillard, Ga.
C. Layne Williams, Marietta
C. Layne Williams of Marietta, Ga., is the longtime Senior Director of Rules and Competitions of the Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) and his knowledge and passion of the rules of golf and experience as a golf administrator has made an impact on the state, national and international level.
Williams was born in Atlanta and attended Moultrie High School in Moultrie, Ga., where he played golf. He joined the golf team at LaGrange College in 1972 and was the number one player for three years. He has won the club championship at both Highland Country Club in LaGrange and Raintree Country Club in Charlotte, N.C.
Williams joined the Georgia State Golf Association in 1987 as Tournament Director, and quickly elevated to the position of Senior Director, where he continues to serve today. Having been a USGA Certified Rules Official since 1989, he has acted as Official in Charge at over 250 GSGA competitions and over 250 qualifying rounds for USGA national championships.
On the national level, Williams has served on the Rules Committee of close to 60 USGA Championships, including several U.S. Open Championships (14), U.S. Amateur Championships (20), U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships (18), and many others. He has conducted GSGA/Georgia PGA Rules of Golf Workshops every year since 1998, and has hosted more than 120 Rules of Golf Seminars at GSGA Member Clubs, including two seminars for the Bermuda PGA.
In addition to his unquestionable rules knowledge, Williams is an esteemed writer as he has published many articles for various publications, including Golf Georgia magazine and Through the Green magazine. He won the 2001 GAMMA Award for Best Essay for an article he submitted in Golf Georgia.
Williams and his wife, Teresa, currently reside in Marietta, Ga.
The Class of 2016 was selected by the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Committee and approved by the GSGA Executive Committee, based on the recommendation of the GGHOF Nominating Committee. These five inductees will bring the total number of Georgia Golf Hall of Fame members to 107.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, which came under the management of the Georgia State Golf Association in 2010, is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Georgia's golf traditions, heritage, achievements and excellence. For more information on the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, please visit www.gghof.org.