Georgia's McClure Recipient Of 2008 Joe Dey Award
Far Hills, N.J. - Gene McClure of Atlanta, Ga., who has served on the Regional Affairs Committee of the United States Golf Association for more than 15 years and has worked at many USGA, state and collegiate championships as a committee member, Rules official and referee, has been named the recipient of the 2008 Joe Dey Award.
Given since 1996, the Joe Dey Award recognizes an individual's meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. The 66-year-old McClure will receive the honor Feb. 9 at the Association's Annual Meeting in . The award is named after the late Joseph C. Dey Jr., who served as USGA executive director for 35 years, from 1934-69, and was later the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.
|Gene McClure of Atlanta is the recipient of the 2008 Joe Dey Award. (Photo courtesy of GSGA)
"It's overwhelming to think of this honor," said McClure, who was informed of the honor by Joe Dey Award Committee Chairman William Lewis. "Volunteering is important because it promotes the values of the game. The USGA staff and the Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) are like a family to me. How do I say thank you to all those people I have worked with for a number of years?
"I never worked with Joe Dey, yet when I met him on several occasions, he was an inspirational person - not just because of his expertise and dedication, but because he really appreciated and respected the volunteers and he encouraged us to give our best. That is the quality of leadership that I admire and that was Joe Dey's lasting quality."
McClure's passion, benevolence and dedication to the game were described in the many recommendation letters sent to Lewis, a member of the USGA Executive Committee.
From incoming USGA Executive Committee member Pat Kaufman: "He personifies the finest qualities of a USGA volunteer: supremely competent, unfailingly generous with his time and expertise."
And from former USGA Executive Committee member S. Timothy Kilty of , who nominated McClure: "To me, Gene epitomizes the word 'volunteer.' "
McClure, a founder and partner in the Atlanta-based law firm of McClure and McMorries, PC, was lured to the game as a 14-year-old in his native , , by a neighborhood doctor. McClure and a few friends were invited to a local public course, where the doctor provided clubs to the youngsters. As McClure was hitting balls on the range, the doctor whispered compelling words: "You're a natural, this is your game."
McClure continued to play through high school and college. He attended Emory University in before becoming an Air Force accounting and finance officer with additional responsibility for base recreation facilities.
"I didn't care about the bowling alley, but I was really interested in the golf courses," he said.
Stationed at bases in Canada and , McClure competed and conducted several tournaments. That laid the foundation for his future as a volunteer in Georgia and eventually with the USGA.
After leaving the Air Force and receiving his law degree from Emory, McClure joined Ansley Golf Club in , where he met several influential people involved with the GSGA, including then-GSGA Executive Director Steve Mona, who asked him to become involved in conducting many of the association's events.
McClure's GSGA work caught the attention of the USGA's Roger Harvie, who asked him to join the Sectional Affairs Committee (now Regional Affairs) in 1992. McClure continued to work actively with the GSGA, rising to the role of president in 1996-97. Once his two-year term as president concluded, McClure maintained his involvement with the GSGA as a Rules official, committee member and writer as he penned several articles for Golf Georgia magazine. In January, McClure will re-join the GSGA Executive Committee and serve a three-year term as chairman of its championship committee.
"He has made an impact on a lot of people and in a lot of ways," said Mike Waldron, executive director of the GSGA. "When people get into a volunteer activity they obviously do it because they love it, but very few people can make an impact like Gene has."
Whether as a walking Rules Official for championships or assisting NBC with on-course camera positioning at the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open, McClure does it all with an infectious smile and unbridled joy.
For the past several years, McClure has overseen a special sub-committee at the Open and Senior Open. He recruits, trains and coordinates a group of 20 volunteers to assist NBC with its broadcasts.
"When I think of a true gentleman in the game of golf, Gene is always someone who comes to mind," said Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director for Rules and competitions. "He's been helpful in so many areas. He's just somebody who is always there and always willing to help. He has given so much more back to the game than he's ever received from it."
McClure's volunteer work in golf goes beyond the USGA and his state association. He has been a director of the Atlanta Junior Golf Association, a trustee of the Georgia Junior Golf Foundation and a trustee for the GSGA's charitable foundation that provides scholarships to children of employees at Georgia golf courses.
McClure has also served on the Bobby Jones Foundation that was created by the Atlanta Athletic Club and was a member of the Atlanta History Center's Executive Committee when it created the permanent exhibit "Down the Fairway with Bobby Jones." He also served as a historical consultant for the USGA's and Atlanta History Center's video entitled "Bobby Jones and the Quest for the Grand Slam."
For several of the USGA events conducted in the Atlanta area - the U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women's Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur - McClure was responsible for researching and writing articles for the championship programs. In 2005, he served as the co-chairman of the host committee for the U.S. Women's Amateur held at his home club, Ansley Golf Club's Settindown Creek Course.
McClure's generosity extends beyond the game. His philanthropic projects in Atlanta have included serving as board member and president of the Ansley Park Civic Association (a historic neighborhood where he lives), serving as a board member of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, and as a member of the Mayor's Special Task Force.
He also was a national advocate for homecare and hospice, doing legal work throughout the U.S. as a representative for hospice and nursing care providers.
McClure manages his charitable and civic work while also maintaining a full-time job as partner in his law firm along with dedicating time to his family that includes wife Sharon, two daughters, Meredith and Holly, a son Devon and grandson Jack.
His extended family at the GSGA could not have been happier when informed a few weeks ago that McClure was the 2008 Joe Dey Award recipient. GSGA staffers applauded in unison and McClure, who happened to be in the office for a committee meeting, personally thanked every individual.
"There are so many great, wonderful volunteers to present this award to," said Waldron, a former Joe Dey Award Committee member. "But you are never going to get one any better than Gene. He's just a tremendous person."
Previous winners of the Joe Dey Award are: Charles Eckstein (1996); John Staver (1997); Joe King (1998); Frank Anglim (1999); Jack Emich (2000); Bill Dickey (2001); Clyde Luther (2002); John Hanna (2003); Adele Lebow (2004); Pearl Carey (2005); Dr. Bob Hooper (2006); and Harry McCracken (2007).