Paul Dillon, a past president of the Metropolitan Golf Association and former men’s golf coach at Fordham University, died on July 20. He was 85.

Dillon, father to actors Matt and Kevin among his six children, came to golf late in life before becoming an advocate of the game as a leader, coach and artist. His service on behalf of the MGA and Westchester Golf Association made him one of the most recognizable faces in New York-New Jersey-Connecticut golf during the last 30 years.

Dillon grew up in New Rochelle, New York, and like many golfers, his first exposure to the game was as a caddie. In spite of this, and a lifelong love of all sports, he didn’t play his first round of golf until the age of 23. After attending Iona College, Dillon began a 30-year career with the Union Camp Corporation, a company that is now part of International Paper and put golf on hold while he and his wife of nearly 60 years, Mary Ellen, raised their six children in Mamaroneck, New York. (He was just as proud of his daughter, Katy, a teacher, as his more celebrated sons.)

At age 45, he rediscovered golf and became a member at Wykagyl Country Club and then, in 1987, joined Winged Foot Golf Club. His love of family, golf and Winged Foot all converged into the following Forecaddie report in a September 2009 issue of Golfweek:

The Man Out Front loves it when the HBO hit show Entourage hits the links. It’s only fitting since a round of golf played a big part in Kevin Dillon landing his scene-stealing role as Vince’s older brother, Johnny Drama.

Most of the credit goes to the actor’s father, Paul Dillon, who hosted Mark Wahlberg at Winged Foot CC in 2003.

“He had a small entourage of his own,” the elder Dillon recalled, noting one of Marky Mark’s “Funky Bunch” spent the entire day taking pictures (Hey Wang, it’s just a parking lot).  

“In chatting with [Wahlberg],” Dillon recounted, “I said, ‘My son Kevin lives part-time in California, you guys should tee it up.’ ”

A few holes later, Wahlberg conceded he had never met Paul’s son, but he thought he might be a perfect fit for this new project, Entourage, he had in the works. After all, Kevin has lived the part of Vinny Chase’s older brother in real life. Kevin’s been overshadowed most of his career by his movie star younger brother, Matt (TMOF has been a huge fan since “The Flamingo Kid”).

“‘Well then you definitely have to tee it up,’ ” Paul replied. “They played golf, made a pilot, sold it to HBO, and now it’s a hit.”

That’s a story that makes The Man Out Front raise his arms above his head and scream Drama’s signature line, “Victory!”

Former Fordham men’s golf coach and MGA president Paul Dillon (center) surrounded by recipients of the MGA’s Golfworks program. (Courtesy MGA)

Dillon began volunteering his time with the MGA and WGA in the early 1990s. He served as WGA president from 1994-‘95 and later as president of their highly successful Caddie Scholarship Fund.

He became head coach of Fordham University’s men’s golf team in 1995 and turned the Rams program into an Atlantic 10 Conference contender, winning, among other titles, the 2009 ECAC Championship, during his 22-year tenure. Voted 2004 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, Dillon took pride in helping his players improve as golfers, but more importantly, developing them into responsible and respected adults.

“Fordham lost a man who epitomized the Jesuit value of being a man for others,” said Fordham director of athletics Ed Kull. “Paul was so much more than just a golf coach to his student-athletes. He was a mentor and friend.”

Dillon also served golf with his paintbrush, becoming the Met Area’s most prolific and celebrated golf artist. He painted, and donated, hundreds of portraits of the game’s great players, many of which hang prominently in clubhouses across the country and abroad. Each year, he created portraits of MGA and Metropolitan Golf Writers Association award recipients, a tradition for more than 20 years, and painted each of his graduating Fordham golf team seniors. A selection of his portraits is proudly displayed in the “Dillon Gallery” at the MGA’s Golf Central headquarters.

His dedication to spreading the game’s values and traditions along with his relentless service to the MGA and WGA made him one of the most beloved members of his local golf community and culminated in him receiving the MGA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

“During the course of your life you may meet a handful of people that you love and that also inspire you,” said former MGA president Al Small. “Paul—the artist, coach, leader and friend—is that person to me!”





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