Staff writer Barry McDermott, whose coverage of the Sealy-Fabergé women's golf tournament in Las Vegas begins on page 84, says he knew he had found a home in journalism on the day he filled out employment forms at the gas company, the telephone company and The Cincinnati Enquirer. "I would have been a meter reader or a pole man on the line," he says, "but they turned me down. On the newspaper application, though, there was a space for 'special abilities.' I had them cold. I wrote 'spelling.' "
Unfortunately, McDermott's grammar at the time did not measure up to the spelling, and he was hired as a copy-boy. Given a chance to write an item for the teen-age section of the paper, he garbled it to such an extent that it was picked up by The New Yorker. "First time out of the box, a big-timer," McDermott says today.
Originally from Fort Wright, Ky., Barry pursued what he calls a "catastrophic" scholastic career, during which he dropped out of every college in the Cincinnati area except Xavier. He never got into Xavier. On the Enquirer his beats were golf, the Royals and then a regular column in which he alternately roasted and glorified the city's baseball and football teams, sports personalities and, not infrequently, the city itself, a section of which he once referred to as "a refugee camp for the Appalachian Mountains."
In the year and a half Barry has been with us, he has done lucid stories on everything from troubled basketball teams to celebrity golf tournaments and women billiards players, all of which have cut into his own pursuits of golf, lying in the sun and seeking out YMCAs across America where he can jog and lift barbells (McDermott says that he lifts a lot of barbells). Several weeks ago he was able to squeeze in one round of golf with the Lakers' Bill Sharman, former Army Halfback Glenn Davis and Bob Cousy—at the behest of the latter, who may have felt he owed McDermott a round after so many occasions when he denied him a chance to scrimmage with his Royals while both the Royals and Barry lived in Cincy.
"Cousy used to let me shoot around with the players in practice," McDermott says, "but I dreamed of the day only nine guys would show and he'd need me to play. It happened once. I stole the ball from Tom Van Arsdale."
On the golf course McDermott used to play to a two handicap and once tied for the golf writers' championship (a title Dan Jenkins has won twice) only to "flat choke out" in a sudden-death playoff. Since moving from the Enquirer to SI, McDermott has had to curtail his time on the links and suffer the consequences. The first time he played the Marco Island (Fla.) Country Club course some years ago he shot a 68. This spring, playing in full view of Johnny Unitas and Gibby Gilbert in a pro-am, he managed 92, including one terrific wedge shot that traveled four inches.
"Living in New York has destroyed my golf," he says gloomily. Golf's loss is our gain.
McDERMOTT AND NON-GOLFING FRIEND