Jerry McGee, Class of 2023
By Mike Dudurich • November 2, 2023
Jerry McGee wasn’t born in Pittsburgh and didn’t grow up here, either.
But he did have an affinity for a lot of things about Western Pennsylvania, especially.
“Dad loved the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins,” said his son, Mike, on the eve of Jerry being inducted into the West Penn Golf Association Hall of Fame.
Jerry McGee’s life was an interesting one with plenty of ups and downs. But through it all, he was a shining example of how perseverance and hard work can overcome a rough start in life.
“We grew up in a tough time,” Jerry was quoted as saying. “We didn’t have a lot of money and until my parents divorced and my mom married a golf pro, golf really wasn’t in my plans.”
The game slowly became part of his life and while he wasn’t able to play in as many events as other youngsters were, he found his game eventually.
He said that when he was 14 years old, some friends took him to Firestone Country Club, and he watched his first professional event.
That was the day he decided to play professional golf.
After playing collegiately at Ohio State, he joined the PGA Tour in 1967. He made 404 starts and won four times, twice in 1979. He played on one Ryder Cup team, the 1977 team that beat the European team at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
“Outside of my family, playing on that team was the greatest thrill of my life,” he said. “To be one of 12 golfers picked to represent your country, I still get chills thinking about it.”
He also played in 26 major championships and finished in the top 10 three times, including a tie for fifth in his 1972 Masters debut.
“My dad was a competitor, for sure,” Mike McGee, the husband to LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam, said. “But he was really hard on himself on the golf course, sometimes far too hard. He really loved the game, though.”
And golfers and golf fans loved him.
“He was one of the most popular players in pro-ams and was requested to play in events like that a lot,” his son. “He always went to the pro-am parties. He liked the amateurs. That relationship helped get him into events a while after his best days were behind him.”
McGee grew up in Ohio, but spent a lot of time in Western Pennsylvania, where he worked for a time as the Director of Golf at Oak Tree Country Club.
He was named the Tri-State PGA Teacher of the Year in 1982.
Mike McGee said that he and his family had tried to convince his father to move to Florida to be near them, but he had resisted those requests until a few weeks before he passed away at age 77 on March 29, 2021.
“He was a great guy, a great father for me and Michelle (his sister),” he said. “He would have been very proud of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. This would have meant the world to him.”
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and nearly 37,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.