If you're going to challenge Douglas H. McCorkindale to a game of golf, you'd better be a scratch player or bring along a ringer.
McCorkindale, 65, reigns supreme among local executive golfers. His 5.7 handicap earned him the No. 13 spot on Golf Digest's annual ranking of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 chief executive golfers, ahead of General Dynamics Corp. chief executive Nicholas D. Chabraja -- handicap 6.5 -- and Capital One Financial Corp. chief executive Richard D. Fairbank -- handicap 17.6.
Douglas H. McCorkindale
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McCorkindale moved up from No. 22 on last year's list and brought his handicap down from 7.1.
"I was shocked to see [my handicap] there," McCorkindale said. "I didn't realize my handicap had improved. I have been playing a lot less golf. . . . I didn't know I was at that level."
On the business side, McCorkindale has maintained Gannett's position as the No. 1 newspaper company in the United States through savvy acquisitions and keeping a low-profile. He rarely gives interviews. He rose to the top spot at Gannett after decades working in various divisions of the company.
McCorkindale said he picked up golf during the earlier days of his career at Gannett at the urging of former chairman Paul Miller. "He loved golf. He bugged me to play the game. I finally bought a used set of clubs, and he got all the golfers up in Rochester to take me out to encourage me to play golf," he recalled.
These days, McCorkindale plays around 40 to 50 rounds of golf a year, though usually not with other media executives. "I haven't played golf with anyone in the media business in years," he said.
He pays for almost all his own golf memberships.
"We have strict rules about this. The company may pay for one. We will not pay for any club that discriminates. That's totally unacceptable," he said.
While he's aware that golf offers the perfect setting for schmoozing, McCorkindale said "I don't look to play golf with someone in order to do business with them."
He'd rather play competitively. "It puts more pressure on the game. It makes you concentrate. I like the challenge of it all," he said.
In the tournaments, he said, winning is about chipping and putting.
"It's the short game," he said. "I've done about as well as I am going to do with a driver. . . . It is the fine tuning, getting the ball in the hole."
-- Annys Shin