Former pro golfer ‘Swingin’ Along’ and carving new niche for himself

By Mary Thurwachter

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

George McGowan has spent decades on the golf course and couldn’t help but notice the various and sometimes amusing positions and predicaments golfers get themselves into. (Trousers do, on occasion, split after a vigorous swing, for example).

One day in the mid-1990s, at the coaxing of his wife, McGowan made a carved plaster golf statue.

“I made an armature and covered it with papier-mchĂ©,” McGowan, a professional golfer since 1962, says. Then, he painted it and found that people liked it. One of the statues made it onto the cover of a golfing magazine and, for a while, McGowan considered mass-producing his colorful characters. But that didn’t pan out.

Nevertheless, McGowan, now a retired golf professional who still plays a few times a month, kept making the sculptures, which take him about a week to complete.

“I have sculpted over 30 golf statues,” he says. “Everyone thinks they belong in a golf museum.”

He’s not interested in selling them. He just wants people to be able to enjoy them, especially here in the golf capital of the world. Among his subjects are his two sons.

“I don’t have any art background, and I can’t draw,” he says. “These are a work of patience.”

A few years ago, McGowan wrote a book called Swingin’ Along. It’s filled with country club anecdotes, his offbeat humor, facetious self-criticism, insightful golf tips, and images of his unique sculptures.

Born in Flushing, Long Island, N.Y., McGowan became interested in golf in high school, when he caddied for his father. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Gettysburg College and spent four years in the Army.

He became a professional golfer and insists he wasn’t that great, even though he won 65 tournaments in 15 years. He worked as a club professional in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. His wife, Mary, is a good golfer, he says, and was his assistant.

In fact, they met on a golf course in New Hampshire. They moved to Florida in 1987 and lived in Palm Beach Gardens for a while before moving to suburban Lake Worth. In addition to their two sons, the couple has five grandchildren.

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