"We talked him into playing in our tournament. His school didn't have a golf team. We tried to get the school system to let him play on another team, but they have a lot of rules, and that was one of them.
"So the kid played with us at Cobbs Creek. But he really wasn't equipped to do it. He got out there, but he didn't know all the rules. So he broke a lot of them. The kid shot, like, 130, even how he was keeping score, which was a lot for the kids he was playing with. But he posted it up on the wall. And we had some pretty rocky kids.
"This kid was real nice. He's like 30 shots worse than anyone else. These other kids normally fought with each other. But what really got me is, they didn't make fun. Not at all. Their reaction to him posting that score made me feel good. Those are the things I carry."
MacDonald, also the longtime golf coach at Temple, paused as his emotions got the best of him. This happened nearly two decades ago. Two decades from now, his reaction will remain the same.
"We kind of lost touch," he finally continued. "He never had the chance to play in school. The next year he did better, but not by a whole lot. He wound up going to college. About two years ago, I got a call from his dad. He graduated from a historically black college around Atlanta. He did pretty well.
"His dad said he really got into golf down there. He landed a good job, and golf was a part of it. And he was volunteering in a youth program, to get other kids involved. I never caught up with him, but his dad wanted to volunteer to help us. When you see their circumstances, and what some of them have done for themselves, I'd like to think kids will remember that."
No, the name is not important. It's the deed that endures.
MacDonald, the Owls' coach since 1972, has been the NCAA District II Coach of the Year 12 times. His teams have won 15 conference championships. Eleven of his players were All-Americas a total of 22 times. One, Geoff Sisk, plays on the PGA Tour. He's not the first.
For almost as long, MacDonald has been the president and chief executive officer of the West Kensington-based Impact Services Corp., a non-profit organization with a $5 million budget that has:
* Helped stabilize more than 430 businesses employing more than 21,000 people.
* Delivered more than $42 million into the business community.
* Placed 7,000 hard-to-employ adults in unsubsidized employment.
* Helped 3,500 youths earn a high school diploma or GED.
For 17 years, MacDonald has worked with Jay Sigel with the Greater Philadelphia Scholastic Golf Association. He takes inner-city kids on trips to professional events and country clubs. He conducts clinics and tournaments.
"The first clinic we took to a school, one black kid, fairly tall, walked in and said, 'Oh, man, golf.' I'm like, 'Oh, brother, what's it going to be?' By the end of the period, he couldn't get enough. Nothing is for everybody. You either get caught up in it or you don't. But there's something magical about it. I see it in their faces."
Once, a burned-out car guarded the middle of a fairway.
"It was an automatic free lift if you hit it in there," he recalled. "You don't see that at some of your finer clubs in the area."
Through his many contacts, he provides the kids with equipment and clothing. At 56, he lives a life that would make the Energizer Bunny dizzy. But he juggles with the best, 11 years after heart-bypass surgery.
His golf site is in a former carpet mill that is Impact's headquarters. There's an Astroturf putting green, a practice tee and net with what must be one of the area's few indoor bunkers.
"We can even make it wet sand," said MacDonald, raising a hose.
Every Big 5 team has used the facility. So do many members of the local community.
It doesn't look like much. But it is an oasis. The landscape has changed since MacDonald founded Impact. Nearby is a memorial to a former drug lord, and a spot that was a dumping ground for bodies during a drug war.
"That's just the way it is," MacDonald said, shrugging. "We've never really had any problems. You never get used to it, but maybe you get accustomed to the fact it happens. "
A member of Temple's Hall of Fame, he still lives in the same Mayfair rowhouse he and his wife started with in the mid-1960s and raised three children.
If life is hectic, it's also been good. He wants it to be better for others.
MacDonald has a dream. Well, actually he has several, all intertwined.
He wants to get golf back into the Philadelphia public schools as a team sport, something that hasn't been available for five years because of finances.
He wants to develop Little Leagues for golfers, to expose even Tee-Ball-aged youngsters to the game.
Most of all, he wants to build a facility where talented kids can really learn how to play. He has received a $364,000 grant from the U.S. Golf Association. Discussions are ongoing about a proposed site at Northeast Airport.
"In tennis, the Arthur Ashe Center did a lot for local kids," MacDonald said. "I feel the same way about this. It's certainly workable. We're looking at a driving range, with 10 stalls set aside for our use only. The range would have to carry itself with the traditional paying public. Kids wouldn't just hit balls. We'd have a staff to work with them.
"We could actually identify kids who have a genuine interest and skill level. We could make the stalls heated for year-round use. Eventually we'd add some practice holes, a chip-and-putt course and an executive course.
"Imagine what it would be like to take some ninth-grader and watch them reach the point where they'd be good enough to get a college scholarship. The frustration, and the burden, comes from not being able to follow up what you've started. Now, we can only take it so far. This would elevate junior golf to a whole new level."
Change is rarely easy. MacDonald knows.
"I remember interviewing Charles Barkley for a video we did for the kids," he recalled. "He said, 'I wish I knew then what I know now about golf. Maybe I could be better, if I'd learned earlier.' "
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