Arden native Pete McDaniel, Tiger Woods writer, headed to UNCA Athletics Hall of Fame

The Arden native began his writing career at the Asheville Citizen Times in 1974 and went on to report for Golf World and Golf Digest, writing several features and eventually two best-selling books on golf great Tiger Woods.

 

McDaniel, who lives in Hampton, Georgia, was co-author with the late Earl Woods on “Training a Tiger,” and he also co-authored “How I Play Golf” with Tiger Woods. He has had many accolades throughout his career, but the next will be a big one — on Feb. 16 McDaniel will be inducted into the UNC Asheville Athletics Hall of Fame as a contributor.

 

“I’m extremely honored. Hopefully, it will inspire others to chase their dreams beyond the arena with the same competitive spirit, and see where it leads you,” McDaniel told the Times-News on Jan. 27.


MvDaniel said he got the call about his induction from his old friend, Mike Gore.

“Mike was the longtime sports information director at UNC Asheville and is enshrined in the Hall as well. It was the furthest thing from my mind as I’ve been engrossed in writing my memoir tentatively titled ‘Ghostwriter: From the Outhouse to the Penthouse with Tiger Woods.’ Needless to say, I was filled with joy and excitement,” he said.

 

“I grew up in the 1950s during Jim Crow and experienced racism both symbolic and through personal interaction,” he said, referring to Southern laws that enforced racial segregation, prohibiting African Americans from attending the same schools or eating in the same restaurants and many other spaces reserved for “whites only.”

McDaniel said when these laws were changed, it didn’t make things much better.

“Unfortunately, when schools were integrated in 1964, what was supposed to enhance our education only further stripped us of our culture and knowledge of our rich history,” he said. “Had it not been for the Black schoolteachers who taught us about our heritage, most of us would have known nothing but the watered-down truth and revisionist history taught us by white teachers.”

 

McDaniel said he didn’t learn about great writers like Richard Wright and James Baldwin until a course on Black literature in the early ’70s while he was attending UNC Asheville.

 

“To me, that is a perfect example of a liberal arts education, and another reason for my intense love for my alma mater. In 1970, there were less than 50 Blacks enrolled at UNCA. Today, the number has increased significantly as diversity, inclusion and equity have become watchwords of progress. I am proud to be considered a trailblazer and supporter of my alma mater.”

 

McDaniel graduated from T.C. Roberson in 1970 and was at UNC Asheville from 1970-74, beginning his college career as a two-sport athlete, playing basketball and golf.

 

“I walked on to both teams. I soon realized that I wasn’t good enough to start for coach Bob Hartman, and my bruised ego would not accept being a reserve, so I quit the basketball team after the first season. By then, I had become involved in the Black Students Union and the school newspaper, penning a column titled ‘Mac’s Rap.’

 

“I played on a golf team of studs including Rick Oates, Larry Carter, Tom Dechant and J.C. Hyatt Jr. Focusing solely on golf changed the course of my life and made me a Bulldog forever,” he said.

 

Looking back on his childhood and his teen years, the 71-year-old recalled being a caddie at Biltmore Forest Country Club, when he wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse, he said.

 

“I’m working on my memoir now. It is the story of an ex-caddie’s  journey from being forbidden to enter the clubhouse at the country club to being the honored dinner guest at that same country club where I regaled members with stories of my adventures while traveling the world with arguably the greatest golfer ever,” he said.

 

McDaniel, who also wrote the critically-acclaimed “Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African Americans in Golf,” said he was a caddie at Biltmore Forest Country Club from 1963-70. He said Sheila Fender was the driving force behind his invitation to speak at the club.

“She fought the old guard on my behalf and deserves to be recognized,” he said.

McDaniel has been looking back through his life as he continues working on his memoir, which he calls one of his biggest writing challenges yet.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have written two bestsellers and one highly acclaimed book about Blacks in golf, but my memoir is the most difficult project I’ve ever undertaken. The memoir has been a gut-wrenching, but cathartic, experience as I’ve attempted to peel back the layers of my life,” he said.

After graduating from UNC Asheville with a bachelor’s in literature, McDaniel said he landed his first professional job in just two days.

“I graduated from UNCA on a Saturday and received a phone call on Monday offering me a position at the Asheville Citizen Times,” he said.

“I began as a rookie reporter for the afternoon paper, the Times, learning from the ground floor, writing obituaries. My mentor at the Times was veteran reporter Henry Robinson, the first Black staffer there. A few months later, I was transferred to the Citizen’s sports department, headed by Larry Pope,” he said.

Not long after that, McDaniel switched roles again, this time being assigned to the police beat.

“That ultimately ended my tenure at the Citizen Times,” he said. “Four years later in 1979, I joined the sports department at the Hendersonville Times-News under the direction of sports editor Steve Parham and the sports editor emeritus, Buddy Chapman.”

In 1983, McDaniel became the sports editor, a title he held for 10 years, and then departed after accepting a position at Golf World Magazine as a senior writer.

“Tiger was named the magazine’s Man of the Year after winning the first of three consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships in 1994, and I was assigned the cover story. My effort so impressed Earl Woods that he asked me to help him write ‘Training A Tiger,'” McDaniel said.

“I’ve been a member of ‘Team Woods’ ever since, even after officially retiring in 2016. Working with them has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, just short of my four sons. I view it as a connection orchestrated by God to whom I’m eternally grateful.”

 

 

Gideon Canice

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