WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – John Maginnes competed against the best professional golfers in the world. In the decade after earning his PGA Tour Card in 1995, Maginnes had eight top-ten finishes in tournaments, including a tie for second-place in the 1996 Buick Challenge, a tie for fifth at the 1998 Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic, and a sixth-place finish at the 1999 Motorola Western Open. That year was Maginnes’ best on tour, when the 1992 East Carolina University grad made the cut in 16 of the 29 PGA tournaments he entered, winning more than $426,000.
Maginnes’ last top-ten came in 2003, when he tied for fifth at the B.C. Open, four shots behind winner Craig Stadler. The next year, when elbow surgery forced him to take time off, Maginnes unknowingly took the first step into what would become his second career.
“My agent called and said, ‘Do you want to do TV?’”, Maginnes remembers. “I said, ‘God no! Are you kidding me? I don’t even like those guys!’ He said, ‘Well hang on a second. It’s Thursday-Friday coverage on USA network’, this was before the Golf Channel got it, ‘and it’s from 4pm to 6pm on Thursday and Friday, so essentially, you’re going to walk about six holes with a group. I can get you in Wednesday night, I can get you out Friday night. They are going to put you up at the Ritz Carlton and they’re going to pay you five grand’. I said, ‘Do you know what? I think I can fit that in!’ That’s how it started.’
So, Maginnes made his debut as an on-course reporter in Dearborn Michigan, at the 2004 Senior Players Championship. The following week’s PGA Tour stop also happened to be in Michigan, and Maginnes once again worked for USA Network covering the Thursday and Friday rounds. In a post-round interview with Tiger Woods, instead of asking all about the tournament, Maginnes asked Woods, ‘We all know you are getting married soon…how is that going to affect your fishing?’ When the superstar chuckled and answered candidly, Maginnes found himself with a job for the rest of the 2004 season.
“I still thought I was going to be going back to playing,” Maginess says. “In ‘05 in fact, I had 19 tournaments on a medical exemption that I did play because I couldn’t afford not to. It was during that year that it was clear that my game wasn’t going to measure up anymore. But I had to make some decisions. USA Network has already invited me to come back whenever I wanted to, and in ‘05 PGA Tour Radio was starting, doing a live play by play coverage. So there was two jobs. Not particularly lucrative jobs, but they were jobs, and I could do them. Then it was fun to be a part of a team. I had never had anything like that in my life before. So, I fell in love with it and tried to get better at it. Here we are, 15-16 years later. and they still let me do it. I keep waiting for somebody to tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘All right son, now go get a job!’”
In addition to co-hosting the Katrek and Maginnes on Tap show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Maginnes works as an on-course reporter during some tournaments. He also has written stories and perspective articles for several golf outlets. It keeps him inside the ropes, around the new generation of golfers that hit it harder and longer than ever before.
“These guys bomb it,” Maginnes says. “They hit it as hard as they can, then they go find it and hit a wedge on the green. That’s just the way that they play. It took me a while, the grumpy old guy, to see the beauty in that style of play as well. I walked every hole at Winged Foot (Golf Club) with Bryson DeChambeau when he won the U.S. Open last year and I mean it was unreal the things that I was seeing. Flipping wedges into the 520 yard, 16th hole. I thought, ‘That’s a driver and a hybrid for some of this field’. It’s just going to continue to grow.”
Maginnes credits his older brother Philip for helping to set the direction of his golfing future. Growing up in Durham, he remembers their father telling the two boys they would have to choose between playing baseball or golf tournaments. When Philip picked golf, his younger brother followed, and began to work on mastering the game. He chose ECU in 1988 because the Pirates’ golf program gave him the opportunity to play right away on the college level. His game grew to championship caliber. Maginnes was named the 1991 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after winning the individual conference championship. After leaving the university, he began to enter mini-tour events, and eventually won his card to play on the PGA Tour.
After living for several years in Greensboro, Maginnes, his second wife Katelyn and their now two-year-old son Bennett moved to Wilmington last year. The 53-year-old has two older children from his previous marriage. Maginnes has done a lot of his radio and television work from the family’s downtown home during the pandemic. The situation has also allowed him to spend more time with his new son, and he is taking advantage of this second chance at fatherhood.
“It’s so different because when the other two were born, I was playing the PGA tour,” Maginnes says. “I was involved in this very selfish thing that you had to sort of break away from to be a parent. Now, I’m not worrying about going broke. I’m not worried about losing my job. I probably should be worried about those things, but I’ve discovered they don’t put you in jail for them and you can still be a good father with or without those things. I’ve really enjoyed it this time. He (Bennett) is he is a terror. He is wide open. He doesn’t sleep. He’s so much fun. We just spent the morning this morning at the south end on the sound side of Wrightsville Beach. Then we went to Trolley Stop (restaurant) for hot dogs. We are tourists in Wilmington who live here and get our mail here.”
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