Terry Galvin, former Golf World magazine editor, dies at 79
Golf World had only a handful of editors in its 67 years as a print publication, a group that began with Bob Harlow in 1947 and ended with Jaime Diaz in 2014. Like the weekly’s loyal subscribers, its leaders tended to stick around.
Terry Galvin, who died Nov. 3 in Chico, Calif., at age 79 after an extended period of declining health, stands out among those who sat atop the magazine’s masthead.
He was Golf World’s editor from 1989 until 2000, coming to the sport’s trusted, longtime bible after nearly three decades running sports departments at newspapers around the United States. Galvin left a position as sports editor at the Milwaukee Journal to edit Golf World. Earlier stops had been in San Jose, Akron, Miami and, long ago in his hometown, Oshkosh, Wis., where he attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Galvin’s experience, along with a lifelong passion for golf, made him an ideal fit for Golf World, which had been purchased in 1988 by The New York Times Company, then the owner of Golf Digest.
“When Golf Digest bought Golf World, our editorial team was filled with monthly magazine types,” said Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest editor-in-chief. “We needed a fast dose of news editors—writers and a desk staff who could turn around stories overnight. Terry Galvin was the ultimate news editor and sportswriter. He knew golf, knew everybody and hired good people. We’re still benefiting from the talent he attracted.”
Golf World’s scope broadened during Galvin’s time at the magazine, and a healthy advertising climate afforded more editorial pages. He brought in well-known sportswriters to contribute, stars such as Dave Anderson and Bob Verdi. And Galvin put together an inside team that could meet deadlines. For six years his right-hand man was Jim Herre, whom he lured from the Denver Post to be the magazine’s managing editor.
Herre was, like Galvin, a small-town Wisconsin native, but he hadn’t known his future boss until he traveled to Connecticut, where Golf World was located at the time, to interview for a job.
“I came out of the hotel elevator, and there was this guy, big, round face and wide smile, and I just knew that was Galvin without having met him,” Herre said. Later that day, Galvin took Herre to eat pizza at Pepe’s in New Haven but was eager to get to the jai-alai action in Bridgeport, one of Galvin’s favorite pastimes.
“He’d gotten to know the sport from his days in Miami and could handicap the players,” Herre said. “He was placing a bet at a window even before we walked into the fronton. He won $1,000 on the first game and jokingly says, ‘You’re hired.’ ”
A low-handicap golfer (with 11 holes-in-one) most of his life, Galvin loved playing the back nine with something on the line and didn’t dawdle. During a round with the legend Gene Sarazen, The Squire told Galvin, “I like you, laddie—you miss ’em quick.”
Galvin had loved golf since his childhood in Wisconsin, where his family—he was the oldest of six children—lived across from a park and athletic fields. Growing up, he played golf at the local municipal course.
“Sports was a through line in our family’s life,” said Tammy Galvin, one of Terry and his wife Karen’s five children (James, Kelly, Mike, Tammy and John). “Dad was a good athlete, but not exceptional, and I think he lived vicariously through the greats that he covered.
“He just had a pure love for sports. When I was pitching fast-pitch softball before college, he would sit in the stands and keep track of my balls and strikes with a golf pencil.”
Galvin was detail-oriented at Golf World, reading every story of every edition, during an era when issues had hefty page counts. “He was really a get-it-out-the-door, meet-the-deadlines kind of guy,” said Herre, who left in 1995 to work for Sports Illustrated. “But he let us take chances, be creative and try different things.”
The magazine evolved under Galvin, with edgy and analytical writing and large feature preview sections for major championships, which were covered extensively after they were completed.
“I’m probably biased, but I think Golf World was the best golf magazine ever,” said Geoff Russell, whom Galvin hired as a young reporter and who succeeded him as editor before becoming executive editor at Golf Channel. “And Terry Galvin was the editor during its greatest era.”
Galvin was a creature of habit inside and outside the office. He favored fast food and could rate the quality of franchises of one of his favorite brands that he frequented on trips to the South. Introducing Galvin at a Golf Digest awards reception one evening at the 21 Club in New York City, former editorial director Nick Seitz told the crowd, “Here’s Terry Galvin, the only man in America to have breakfast at Duchess, lunch at McDonald’s and dinner at 21.”
Galvin preferred nicknames almost as much as a burger and fries, labeling the people he liked with one. It was a habit that continued to the end.
“There was a wonderful man who took care of Dad at hospice in the last weeks when he was bedridden,” Tammy Galvin said. “His name is Mario, but Dad called him ‘Tebow’ because he was always kneeling by his side.”