John Haime: The Fairways of His Life
And there he was; the late 1980’s found John Haime toiling as a golf professional, pursuing his trade on the Australian Tour, and on this particular day life was reaching a crescendo. He was teeing it up alongside Greg Norman, the golf superstar who was amidst his long run as the number one ranked player the world.
It had taken the Ottawa born Haime a lot of work to reach that point in his career and he was sure there would be many more golf highlights ahead. In a sense, he was right. They just would never come on the PGA Tour, the world’s biggest golf stage. Instead he made his own niche in the golfing world, one that brought him to the contented life he leads today.
“He was just amazing,” Haime comments about Norman, one of many great players he would enjoy the company of during his five and a half years trying to play for pay. “He was incredible in how he played and just how he controlled the golf ball.”
As much as John admired the Great White Shark’s skills he was not lacking in skills himself. He’s just too modest to toot his own horn, even when given the opening to do so.
Few golfers from the National Capital region have a record that matches what the elder son of Peter and Dawn Haime compiled. Having grown up around the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club, where his father was the head professional for many years, most would have expected John (and his slightly younger brother, CPGA Pro Kevin) to be golf prodigies as soon as they got out of diapers but that was not exactly the case.
“We didn’t really start to play until we were about 12 or so. We lived right there at the club but the rule were pretty strict about young golfers.” says John. “That is a lot later to start than most kids who play today,” he adds.
It didn’t take long for John to develop however. “We were lucky, we got to play with dad on Saturday nights and we always had the advantage of having a pro in the house. He was a stickler for fundamentals and really drove us to get the most out of what we were doing.”
Rather slight in size John says that early on he did not have the length to compete with the better players and was mired in shooting 80-84 for quite some time. The benefit was that he developed his short game and when he gained some length he was more than ready to compete with the better golfers.
In 1980, at the age of 17, John began to really mark his mark. That year he levelled the competitions all over Ottawa and capped the season with a win at the Quebec Junior Championship.
John took that momentum on to Purdue University in Indiana ( a choice made with the influence of Ottawa Rough Rider coach Frank Clair who was a Purdue grad and Hunt Club member) where he completed a business degree and spent four years on their golf team. His collegiate career started with two straight wins and he remained a consistent contributor to the team. “It was a lot of fun; how could it not be,” says John of his NCAA experience. “You’re going to school, you’re playing golf; you get to travel. It was great.”
In the summers John would return home and display the skills he was honing at school. Among his win tallied during those respites was the 1981 OVGA City & District Junior, the 1982 OVGA City & District Championship, and at the end of his collegiate days – the 1985 Quebec Amateur Championship.
By his senior year at Purdue John was considering his career options and one of the possibilities was turning professional. “The good thing in Canada is that if you went to Canadian Tour qualifying and got your card you could also play in other places like Australia. For a Canadian kid to think about get to play golf for a living in Australia was a dream.” John would have put that dream on hold for a little while though. A car accident the night before Spring Qualifying School derailed his hopes but he did spend the summer playing mini-tour events in Florida and State Opens in the Northeast U.S. By fall he was ready for the Canadian Tour and he actually was co-medalist at the 1986 Fall Qualifying School.
For more than five and a half years John would play pro golf around the world, peaking with moments like playing in events with the likes of Greg Norman and some top ten finishes in the Australian Open and other top calibre events. It was an interesting life for a young man from Ottawa. Haime says the best part of about the experience was being able to test himself and his game on the highest levels. The worst, of course, was living in a world that was all golf – all the time. John relates that his mindset during those pro years really hurt his ability to get better. “I had the wrong approach a lot of the time, the wrong approach to be consistent as a professional golfer.”
Those thoughts might have hurt John during his professional golf days but eventually he would take the understanding of what he went through and shape it into something very positive.
Once he decided to hang up the clubs John eventually landed back in Ottawa working in a Canadian Trade Policy company specializing in international business. He says it gave him an invaluable understanding of how business worked and what people needed to do to be successful at it. Playing with clients was part of the job and he eventually worked that into his own company, Corporate Golf Links in 1994. The business would organize corporate golf events as well as those for professional golfers. Included in that would eventually be the Canadian Tour Event in Ottawa, the Eagle Creek Classic. As Tournament Director John made it one of the most successful events the tour ever had during its run. John still also leads the Serge Giroux Golf Dream Classic, an event in conjunction with the Ottawa PGA that takes kids with life-threatening illnesses and lets them experience dream trips revolved around golf.
Within a few years John took all the corporate skills he developed post-professional golf and merged them with the wealth of knowledge gained during his amateur and professional golf career. The result is his business that he operates today, LeaningLinks, a highly-regarded new book on the subject – You Are A Contender, and most recently, a new company, New Edge Performance. The combination of golf, business, and high-performance evaluation is a very effective trio coming from a man that knows a lot about all of them first hand.
John has taken 47 years of life lessons and is now using them to show other people around the world how to help themselves. It is gratifying work and the level-headed Haime is very satisfied with where life has taken him. Playing golf is not really a priority for him these days; he still plays well when he does tee it up but would prefer to spend any free time with his wife Tricia and son Aidan. “There is not a lot real motivation for me to play tournaments. If I do I’d prefer to play with friends and family.”
Even so, golf has been a common thread in John’s life and he does not see that changing anytime soon, wherever that might lead him. “You can never change things but I might have approached my professional golf career differently but I really have no complaints,” says Haime. “Golf has been good for me.”
Indeed it has and now through his corporate work, book and leading edge business showing golfers how to get more form their performances, John Haime is well on his way to making sure the game yields great results for others as well.