Doug MacDonald to be named 2010 Updegraff Award winner
Doug MacDonald, the Emeritus Professional at Desert Forest Golf Club, and long time Southwest Section PGA member has been chosen to receive the AGA’s 2010 Dr. Ed Updegraff Award to be presented March 4 at Phoenix Country Club. Established in 1990, the award is the AGA’s highest honor given in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. The award seeks to recognize a person who emulates Updegraff’s spirit, his personal qualities and his attitude toward the game and its players as the inscription reads, “To those who by their actions or accomplishments exemplify the Spirit of the Game.” It will be presented March 4th at the AGA’s Annual Spring Meeting at Phoenix Country Club. “I’m overwhelmed,” MacDonald said when advised of the award. “To think I am considered worthy, and that Dr. Updegraff agreed, is beyond my imagination. A number of my good friends have won this in the past and it’s just incredible to be included with them.” During his illustrious career, MacDonald has had only two head professional positions, a remarkable achievement that exemplifies the strong roots he was able to establish with the clubs and their members. His first job spanned 17 years at Ahwatukee Country Club beginning in 1973 that was followed in 1990 when he moved to the famed Desert Forest Golf Club, which he calls his “dream job.” “This award is a reminder that that game of golf is a gentleman’s game” MacDonald added. “And no one represents the traditions of the game better than Dr. Updegraff. To be associated with him, the traditions and respect he has for the game that is what it’s all about. I like the simpler game, to walk and carry my bag, the roots of the game. The same thing that Dr. Updegraff represents as do previous honorees and friends Bill Rodie, Fred Hickle, Tim Kloenne, Bob Laubach and Bob Graves who have all been an inspiration to me.” An active member of the SWSPGA, he was on the board from 1977 – 1986 and was named the PGA Professional of the Year in 1981. He held the position of secretary in 1980-1981, treasurer in 1978 and was the delegate to the national meeting in 1980 and 1981, along with participating on a variety of committees, holding numerous chairmanships and competing on several Goldwater Cup teams. Considered a “Pro’s Pro,” MacDonald’s philosophy has been to simplify the game of golf for his students and to ensure the element of fun remains. While his family was a member of Arizona Country Club, he spent one summer working in the bag room and knew right away the career path he wanted to follow. While attending Arizona State University, he worked as an assistant professional under long-time Arizona Country Club professional Gene Lesch and credits him for teaching him how to be a golf pro. He also cites Jim Mooney for teaching him how to play. Offered the head professional job at Ahwatukee Country Club, he began his career driving on a dirt road to the club with only 13 model homes having been built. With an active junior program, the club also developed a relationship with the golf program at Corona del Sol High School and enjoyed helping the kids improve their game. When a close friend, Gary Panks was tapped to build the second course, The Lakes, MacDonald really had a great time working with the famed architect who was just beginning a budding career and was recently inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame. Perhaps the most enjoyable time of his career was the appointment to Desert Forest in 1990, one of the finest clubs in the country. The Red Lawrence-designed course represented everything MacDonald believed about the game. “That was my dream job,” MacDonald said. “I’m a real traditionalist, a minimalist and that is what Desert Forest is all about, the golf, basic and simple. It was the best course in the state then and it still is today.” Having a passion for tournaments and events, MacDonald’s first day on the job was quite an amazing welcome. “We were hosting the USGA Senior Amateur Championship that week,” MacDonald said. “Desert Forest is the kind of club that likes hosting national and local events as a way of giving back and I like that aspect a lot. Having that USGA event on that first day was great and I enjoyed working on it, as I did when we hosted the US Women’s Mid-Amateur a few years back.” With teaching as a passion, MacDonald enjoys the mentoring of his assistants that have gone on to head professional jobs and the relationships he has formed with his students over the years. He has modeled his teaching philosophy on Ernest Jones, who was popular in the 1920s and 30s and known as the “The Pro from Fifth Avenue.” Jones’s instruction book, ‘Swing the Clubhead’ is MacDonald’s favorite and often loans a copy to his students. “He had a simple approach to swinging the clubhead and that has been my philosophy all these years,” MacDonald said. “I also found inspiration from Manuel de la Torre, who also ascribes to the principals put forth by Jones. Now in his 90s, I try to see him on his annual trip to Phoenix.” By his side during most of his professional career, has been his wife of 43 years, Tricia. Together they worked at both clubs, working in the golf shop and sharing the experiences as a committed husband and wife team. It is his students that have given him the most joy over the years. If golf is a game for life, then, the Octogenarian tournament at Desert Forest has become a defining event for this highly-regarded teaching professional. Without fail, this elder generation has not lost their competitive spirit and still look to shave strokes off their game before the annual event. “A few years ago, one of the golfers, Harvey Vogel, now in his 90s came to me prior to the championship and wanted a little help with his game,” MacDonald recalls. “After he said, ‘You know, you really made golf fun for me.’ I had been teaching him for 15 years and that represented the essence of what I’ve tried to impart on my students over the years, to make the game fun.” MacDonald and his wife have two children, a daughter, Christa and son, Ryan, and five grandchildren. The Updegraff Award is decided by the AGA’s Executive Committee for presentation at the Spring Meeting. Nominations are accepted from past presidents, past honorees, and the staff of the Association. The AGA’s Executive Committee selected MacDonald from a list of nominees presented with recommendations from past honorees and Dr. Updegraff.