with son David
Joe Logan is the co-founder and editor of MyPhillyGolf.com. Contact him at
were bigger than he was. “That was the first money I ever earned,” he said. “By
the time I finished caddying, I didn’t know if I could get home, I was so tired.”
When it came time for college, MacDonald was offered a J. Wood Platt Caddie
Scholarship. He turned it down because he didn’t need it. Temple had offered
him a full scholarship to play soccer (he was All-American) and golf. The scholarship to Temple was a chance in life that MacDonald never forgot, earning the
university his undying loyalty. At the time, MacDonald suggested the Platt Scholarship go to another caddie at Melrose who otherwise wouldn’t be able to
Perhaps none of his former players appreciates MacDonald’s eye for the
underdog more than Michael J. Brown, who he plucked from Roxborough
after watching him shoot 71, 74, 72 in the Greater Philadelphia Scholastic
Brown went on to earn All-America honors at Temple and, after he graduated, worked at Impact Services for five years while he attended graduate school
at Temple, all the while helping MacDonald coach the golf team. These days,
Brown, winner of the 1997 Philadelphia Open, is a successful businessman and
“I’m one of those kids he gave a chance to,” said Brown, who, like Quinn,
calls MacDonald the biggest influence in his life other than his parents. “I would-
n’t be where I am today without learning from him. He taught us to be honest,
work hard and be competitive. If he can make somebody else’s life better, it
makes him happy. You cannot meet a greater guy.”
Two other former players, Jim Sullivan Jr., winner of the 1999 Amateur Cham-
pionship, and Northampton Country Club head pro Gary Hardin, an All-Ameri-
can at Temple, concur.
“He put Temple golf on the map,” said Hardin, who was captain of Mac-
Donald’s first team, in 1971. “He gave people a chance to play when nobody else
wanted them, and he was responsible for a number of his players graduating
who probably wouldn’t have otherwise. He inspires the kind of loyalty you are
Both Quinn and Sigel are familiar with MacDonald’s powers of persuasion.
Quinn accepted what he regarded as the thankless and low-paying job of coach-
ing the Owls only at the insistent urging by MacDonald that he try it for one year.
Five years later, Quinn wouldn’t think of giving it up. “I feel like it is a privilege,”
Likewise for Sigel, who splits his time between the Champions Tour, his
insurance business and making personal appearances as president of the First
Philadelphia-area First Tee
programs to merge
During his acceptance speech for the Distinguished Service Award at
the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Annual Meeting, John MacDonald revealed an upcoming merger that has been in the works for almost
On Jan. 1, 2012, the First Tee of Philadelphia and the First Tee of
Suburban Philadelphia will become one: The First Tee of Greater
MacDonald, executive director of The First Tee of Philadelphia, will head
the merged chapters. Combined, MacDonald expects the operating
budget to grow from $400,000 to $1.2 million over the next five years,
and the annual enrollment of kids to almost double to 10,000.
“It’s a decision by the home office,” said MacDonald, referring to national
First Tee headquarters at the World Golf Foundation in St. Augustine, Fla.
“They are trying to consolidate.”
Similar mergers are underway across the country, said MacDonald,
especially in metro areas where one chapter is healthier than the other.
The First Tee of Philadelphia, founded eight years ago, has two facilities,
at FDR GC in South Philadelphia and Walnut Lane GC in Roxborough; it
has four full-time employees, plus two part-timers (MacDonald is
considered a part-timer). In addition, through MacDonald’s non-profit,
Impact Services, The First Tee of Philadelphia can call up upon about 95
volunteers as needed.
The First Tee of Suburban Philadelphia, founded 11 years ago, is headquartered at Eyre Park in in Chester. It has only one facility to serve
Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks counties; the suburban
chapter’s lone fulltime employee, executive director Gregg Russell, is
expected to join The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia.
While the official paperwork hasn’t yet been signed, MacDonald said the
formal announcement would likely come in the next few weeks.