Jan 30, 2023

In Memoriam

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In Memoriam: Craig Ammerman

Craig Ammerman, past president of GAP (2000-02) and an Arnold Palmer Lifetime Service Award recipient (2008), died Jan. 27. He was 74. 

Born in Montclair, N.J. and raised in Richmond, Ky., Ammerman attended Eastern Kentucky University. Upon graduation, he began working for the Associated Press and its Huntington, W. Va. bureau in January 1970. Ammerman was the first — and for a while only — reporter at the site of Marshall University’s football team plane crash.  His coverage escalated his career.

Ammerman went on to become deputy bureau chief of the Boston AP bureau. He held several positions in the New York’s AP headquarters. Ammerman served as managing editor of the New York Post, and then the Philadelphia Bulletin in 1980. Following his tenure there, Ammerman and a Philadelphia Bulletin colleague started a publishing business, Health Ink & Vitality Communications. After selling the business, he remained as a consultant and client liaison for several years.

In 1984, Ammerman, a Riverton Country Club member and Cherry Hill, N.J. resident, started his involvement in golf administration. Colton O’Donoghue, who served as Riverton’s president, asked Ammerman to fill a vacancy on the club’s board. In 1993, an impressed O’Donoghue facilitated Ammerman’s appointment to the GAP Executive Committee. Ammerman went on to chair the organization’s Centennial Committee. 

The Centennial’s resounding success, buoyed by Ammerman’s character and commitment, led to his election to GAP president in 2000. During this time, GAP stood at a staffing crossroads, with the retirement of both Executive Director Jim Sykes and Tournament Director Fred Christman, looming. Ammerman and the GAP Executive Committee established a succession plan. Kirby Martin replaced Christman, who retired at the end of 1999. The plan also called for Sykes to stay until 2003, with new staff member Mark Peterson in line to fulfill the Executive Director role. 

However, when Sykes fell ill in 2000, Ammerman and the GAP Executive Committee faced a decision: hire an experienced outsider as executive director or stick with Peterson, only 24 at the time. Ammerman trumpeted the latter.

“I will be forever indebted to Craig. His friendship and willingness to guide and encourage me during my first few months as director will stay with me for a lifetime,” Peterson, GAP Executive Director, said in a 2008 interview with Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine.

Ammerman served two terms before joining the USGA’s Executive Committee in 2002.

“I didn’t know Craig from the man on the moon when he came onto the [USGA] Executive Committee,” Jim Reinhart, a former USGA Executive Committee member, said in a 2008 interview with Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine. “He turned out to be one of the most special people you could ever meet. He is just a rare individual who gave his heart and soul to the game of golf and to the USGA. He was the consummate volunteer.” 

Ammerman, who received the USGA’s Ike Grainger Award in 2018, served on several USGA committees, including Archives and Rules and Communications. He officiated USGA tournaments and Majors such as The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. Behind-the-scenes, lobbying his colleagues on the USGA Executive Committee, Ammerman played a significant role in helping Merion Golf Club land the 2013 U.S. Open Championship.

“He has this ability to put all the pieces together into one big picture and to see the story behind the story, whether it’s technical, human or political,” Jim Vernon, a former USGA Executive Committee member and president, said in a 2008 interview with Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine.

Furthermore, Ammerman proved instrumental in bringing the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship to Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla., where he also held membership. Ammerman also played a role in the publication of “The Story of Jupiter Hills,” the club’s 50th anniversary book.

Ammerman is survived by his wife, Esther Willard Ammerman; daughters Lauren Ammerman Stafford, Sarah Ammerman; grandchildren Jackie, Nathan and Liam; a sister, Karen Ammerman and a brother, Keith Ammerman.

Memorial contributions in Ammerman’s name may be made to The First Tee, whether local or national. Funeral services will not be conducted.

A 2008 Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine article highlighted Ammerman’s career in golf. The Spring 2023 edition of GAP Magazine will take a closer look at his golf legacy.

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The organization’s 340 Member Clubs and 100,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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