THE HAAS FILE
Parents names: Tom and Dannette
Expected major: Marketing or Business
Favorite food: Fried Shrimp
Favorite golfer: Smylie Kaufman
Favorite subject: History
By Josh Grant, Sun Correspondent
PUNTA GORDA — With his bushy, brown beard and John Daly-esque physique, Andrew “Beef” Johnston has become one of the most colorful and recognizable characters on the PGA Tour.
However, even a cult-like following does not translate into positive numbers in the left side of the win/loss column, as Johnston is struggling to remain on the PGA Tour.
You can find the more famous “Beef” (in Charlotte County anyway) roaming the halls of Charlotte High School, donning a blue, white and yellow Tarpon basketball uniform now that golf season is officially over.
His name is Jake Haas, and he is the 2016 Charlotte Sun All-Area boys golfer of the year.
Sporting a glorious, red beard crafted to the specifications of a Zach Galifianakis/Yukon Jack hybrid, “Beef” dominated the links in 2016, winning both district and county championships before ending his season in heartbreaking fashion on the final hole of the regional tournament.
“I was playing so well, I thought it would’ve been bad luck to shave it,” Haas said. “I knew I had the power of the beard on my side.”
Whenever Haas walks onto the tee, his physical appearance commands respect, but despite an intimidating presence, the senior always lets his play do all the talking.
“He’s more of a quiet guy,” Charlotte coach Scott Harvey said. “He’s a ‘let me show you my work ethic and I’ll show you what I’ll produce on the golf course,’ kind of guy.”
Haas only started playing golf right before entering high school when former Charlotte High teammate and friend, Jimmy Laurin (Charlotte Sun 2015 Boys Co-Golfer of the Year), convinced him to take a step away from football and try his hand at golf.
It was under Harvey and Laurin’s tutelage, along with swing coach Adam Miller, that has taken Haas on a meteoric journey from a solid junior season, to the top of the region’s elite golfers.
“Jimmy (Laurin) is one of my best friends and has helped me a lot,” Haas said. “A big thing he has taught me is to be mentally tough and not let anything phase me. The key to playing well is not to get too up or too down.”
Over a 10-day span in October, facing fast greens, stiff winds and fierce competition, Haas etched his name amongst Charlotte High’s elite with an even par-72 over three courses — nine holes each at Port Charlotte Golf Club and Kingsway County Club and 18 holes at the Palms Golf Club in Rotonda West — to take home the Charlotte County Championship. He followed that up with an even par-72 at Kingsway to win the District 15-3A tournament.
“(Jake) was three shots better than everyone on average, per nine holes,” Harvey said. “Playing the tournament at Kingsway was a plus because their greens are always fast and true. A lot of people have problems with that when they’re that good. He seems to excel when he has great conditions like that.”
Although Haas could not convert on the elusive third goal he set prior to the start of the 2016 season at the regional tournament, the Tarpon senior has left an indelible mark on the Charlotte golf program that continues to churn out champion duffers.
“The end doesn’t represent what his season was about.” Harvey said. “The greens were so quick and it was a nasty pin. It wasn’t his ball striking or playing strategies, it simply came down to us being in a good region of players. Some good players got into states and some didn’t.”
Haas is currently deciding between four schools that he’s received offers from — Mars Hill University and Tusculum College in Tennessee, University of Montevallo in Alabama and LaGrange College in Georgia — but will most assuredly receive more offers as his senior year continues.
Now that golf season is over, what is the status of his majestic food catcher?
“I’ve trimmed the beard down, but I’m keeping it,” Haas said. “My parents like when it’s groomed nicely.”
Whether it’s the trimmed beard, college scholarship offers or future prospects as a PGA professional, Tom and Dannette Haas have plenty to be proud of in their son, even if they have to address him as “Beef”
JACOB COOPER, Lemon Bay, Senior
Was a regional qualifier in his senior season, shooting 84 at district. His nine-hole average was a solid 39, and he finished No. 3 at the Charlotte County championships.
MARC KANEKO-FUJII, Port Charlotte, Freshman
The area’s lone state qualifier placed seventh in the big meet of the year. His nine-hole average was 38, and didn’t let up on 18 holes, averaging 76.
YUI FUJII, Port Charlotte, Senior
Placed second at the Charlotte County championships with a 152 over the three days. Fujii averaged 39 on nine holes and 78 on 18.
JACOB GOLDMAN, Port Charlotte, Senior
Was the No. 4 golfer at the Charlotte County championships, and averaged 40 over nine holes for the season, and shot 80 at the district meet.
ZACK KUBIK, North Port, Junior
His 38 average on nine holes was one of the best in the area, and he shot 36 twice. His 18-hole best of 79 came at the regional meet, but he missed state by just three strokes.
DEREK YADANZA, Charlotte
Had an average of 40.5 over nine holes this season. He was also part of a tie for fourth place at the Charlotte County championships with a 159 over three days.
Honorable mention: Port Charlotte: David Derocher, Logan Sorah; Charlotte: Billy Brumbaugh, Truman Bethel; Lemon Bay: Sean Hinkle, Chace Neer, Reece Barber; North Port: Chad Baker, Trevor Baker.
Team compiled by Sports Writer Bryan Levine