There is not a sturdier set of shoulders in the Philadelphia golf community than those on the slight frame of Neil McDermott. His rep- utation of accepting challenges and exceling in the outcome is well known. McDermott served on the GAP Executive Committee for a decade during trying times; has devoted countless hours
at the highest levels of club governance and given back to the game
with time and knowledge to various philanthropic entities.
Recognizing McDermott’s substantial contributions to the sport,
GAP presented McDermott with the Association’s Distinguished
Service Award during the Player’s Dinner in late October, an event,
ironically, conceived during his tenure as GAP President.
“When I got the call from [GAP Executive Director] Mark
[Peterson] to say I felt honored would be an understatement,” said
McDermott, 72, of Newtown Square, Pa., a Llanerch Country Club
member for 30-plus years “It’s kind of ironic when you do some-
thing in life you love for so many years, and then they honor you
for it. I loved it so much and enjoyed every minute at GAP. It is a
wonderful gesture on behalf of the Association.”
McDermott’s been active in club governance since the early
1980s. First at McCall and then at Llanerch. He was club president
for both (1984 McCall/2010-11 Llanerch). As his three boys grew
older – Brian, Kevin and Michael, who are all successful amateur
golfers – McDermott expanded his involvement in the game. He in-
terviewed and was elected to the GAP Executive Committee in 1997
at a time when the organization began to encounter a number of
membership and administrative issues. In his first year on the EC, he
was a “yes” vote to allow public facilities to join the Association. The
topic was highly controversial. In 2002, when then President Craig
Ammerman transitioned to the USGA board, McDermott ascended
to the top of the GAP officer ladder.
“That [first year on the Committee] was really when the Association was starting to take
off in size with the number of Member Clubs.
We had the vote to bring public facilities into
the Association that year,” said McDermott.
“I was on the side to expand. How else are
you going to expand golf? We are not a closed
society. We wanted to make sure we weren’t
viewed as such.”
He also was a vocal advocate in the selection of a then 25-year-old
Mark Peterson to replace the iconic Jim Sykes as GAP’s Executive
Director. A bold step considering the age of Peterson and the revelry
McDermott worked for energy giant PECO/Exelon for almost
40 years, retiring as Vice President of Communications in 2004.
It is no coincidence then that during his tenure as GAP President,
a greater focus was placed on communicating about existing GAP
programming as well as creating new initiatives that benefit clubs
“There was an absence of how much the clubs knew about all the
services GAP offers,” said McDermott. “We needed to show them
we are far more than just running golf tournaments.”
In addition to championing already established programs such
Neil McDermott honored with
Distinguished Service Award
McDermott crosses the Swilcan bridge on The Old Course at St.Andrews.
By Martin D. Emeno, Jr.