Ocean Pines Celebrates 50 Years with Anniversary Golf Tournament
The literal and figurative heart of Ocean Pines – Ocean Pines Golf Club – will help the community continue its year-long 50th anniversary celebration with a golf tournament later this month.
Although just a few years shy of 50 (the course opened its first nine holes in 1972), Ocean Pines Golf Club has long been the social center of the community. The sold-out event, which will be held on Saturday, June 30 at 9 a.m., is a testament to that legacy.
According to Ocean Pines Director of Golf John Malinowski, the tournament sold out within a couple of weeks of opening registration. He said that those lucky enough to snag a spot will be in for a treat.
“The golf course is in fantastic condition,” Malinowski said. “I think tournament participants will be pleased by the job our superintendent, Andre Jordan, and his staff have done.”
While the anniversary was the impetus for the tournament, the highlight of the event will be the course layout, created by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
Jones, who has designed over 400 courses around the world, was commissioned to create the layout for Ocean Pines Golf Club, originally known as Seabright and later as Ocean Pines Golf & Country Club.
Construction on the golf course began in 1970. It officially opened on June 5, 1972, making it one of the earliest courses in the Ocean City area. The inaugural foursome that day included PGA Tour and Masters champion Billy Casper as well as Bob Haley, Ocean Pines’ first golf club professional.
Haley, now retired, went on to build and own The Bay Club in Berlin and found golf apparel company Sport Haley. He credits his time at Ocean Pines with much of his later success.
“Given the opportunity to start something as big as Ocean Pines at age 26 was a wonderful, incredible thing,” he said. “A lot happened because of Ocean Pines. They were the first people to take a chance on me.”
Haley will revisit Ocean Pines at the anniversary tournament, where he will play with other former Ocean Pines golf pros Buddy Sass, Bob Beckelman and Hunt Crosby, all of whom work at area courses.
This year’s event is not the first anniversary tournament for Beckelman, who was the head golf professional at Ocean Pines when the community celebrated its 35th.
Although Beckelman is now the head golf professional at River Run Golf Club in Berlin, (where Crosby is also employed as the director of golf) Ocean Pines is still a special place for him.
“It's interesting to me to think that I still consider Ocean Pines Golf Club as my home no matter how long I've been gone or how many other positions I have held,” he said.
Sass, who is the head golf professional at Ocean City Golf Club, has a similar fondness for Ocean Pines, where he worked in addition to being a member.
“Ocean Pines was a great place to grow up,” he said. “My family was a member from the beginning. My dad joined in 1970 and continued through 1999. I played thousands of rounds on the course and it never got old.”
Although firmly rooted in tradition, Ocean Pines Golf Club has not been shy about embracing the future.
With an eye on developing future players, the course has a thriving junior program and will welcome over 100 young golfers at its camps this summer.
Ocean Pines Golf Club also offers a free golf app, available for download on Apple and android devices, that features live scoring and GPS and can be customized for tournaments and outings.
“Golf as an industry and pastime is always evolving. Ocean Pines tries to stay ahead of the curve by keeping an eye on trends and making golf fun for and accessible to as many people as possible,” Malinowski said.
Open to the public year-round, Ocean Pines Golf Club is the only Robert Trent Jones championship course on Maryland's Eastern Shore. A fair but demanding course, its 18 holes are nestled amid natural wetlands and scenic woodlands. Memberships are available for those wishing to make it their home club.