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Golf Writers from the Heart

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Remembering Carol McCue: A Chicago legend and major friend of golf

Among the surprises in the passage of time is finding out the passing of an old acquaintance after the fact. So it was when I saw in the Chicago District Golf Association’s February 2018 issue of the Chicago District Golfer that Carol McCue had died on December 16 at age 94.

I first met Carol McCue in the early 1980s as a fresh graduate out of Illinois State University, covering sports—and the golf beat—for the Daily Pantagraph in my hometown of Bloomington, Illinois. That was the same paper that had golf writer Ron Coffman and noted sports columnist Dave Kindred pass through.

Whenever I’d go cover one of the Illinois state tournaments, Carol was there, with her large-lens sunglasses unable to cover the face of a welcoming and charming individual. I was thrilled to cover the state’s best golfers for the Pantagraph, but coming from a small, central-Illinois market, I wasn’t one of the state’s elite golf writers. But Carol was not into pretentious behavior. She didn’t treat me as underserving of her time and attention. To the contrary, I felt I got equal measure of her time, and that was her style, she had time for everyone.

She was the CDGA’s executive secretary but was retitled its executive director by the end of her career. Her CDGA career started at age 19 when she was hired two months before the June 1942 Hale America Open, the infamous replacement for the USGA’s U.S. Open. It was held at Chicago’s Ridgemoor Country Club as a benefit for the USO and Navy Relief Society, and won by Ben Hogan. But because it was run like the U.S. Open, it’s the tournament Dan Jenkins, most notably, and others feel is Hogan’s fifth U.S. Open. He won by three over Jimmy Demaret and received a gold medal and $1,200 in war bonds.

McCue adeptly handled the needs of dignitaries such as Bobby Jones, Bing Crosby and Joe Dey at that event, and she was off and running as a can-do communications and behind-the-scenes staffer.

She retired from the CDGA after 1982, and I was off to Connecticut in 1984 to work for Golf Digest. But she soon went to work for the public-golf legend Joe Jemsek at Cog Hill, and continued her advocacy for golf participation. She truly pushed for the betterment of the public golfer. Amazingly, she discovered my new location, and soon I was on her press-release/direct-mail list and getting a regular flow of her announcements. Her relentless pursuit of promoting the special camaraderie of the game helped make her one of eight people inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame inaugural Class of 1989, which included Jemsek and Chick Evans.

Seeing that she had died in her 90s caused me great reflection…on the number of years that have gone by in my life, and how we can feel the yearning to get back to our younger days in direct measure to the ticking of the clock pulling us hard the other way.

But most importantly, I was reminded of a fun and energetic time in my life when the long days of reporting golf were extremely fulfilling and the people I met were distinct and memorable and passionate, just like Carol McCue.

Read more about Carol McCue at illinoisgolfhof.com and search under "members" on the home page.

Cliff Schrock