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LSU Athletics Hall Of Fame Member, SEC Golf Champion "Mac" McLendon Passes Away

LSU Athletics Hall Of Fame Member, SEC Golf Champion "Mac" McLendon Passes Away

BATON ROUGE – Three-time Southeastern Conference golf champion and LSU Athletics Hall of Fame member B. R. “Mac” McLendon passed away on Monday in Birmingham, Alabama at the age of 76.

Benson Rayfield “Mac” McLendon was the league champion for the Tigers in 1965, 1966 and 1967 in SEC events at Athens, Georgia, Baton Rouge and Gainesville, Florida. The Tigers as a team won the 1966 and 1967 events and also played in the NCAA Championships in those years where they finished T8 in 1966 and third in 1967.

He twice scored wins in the prestigious LSU National Invitational, which had its heyday in Baton Rouge from 1961-92. McLendon won the 1966 event with a two-round total of 141 and the 1967 tournament with a 54-hole total of 208.

After graduating from LSU, McLendon turned pro and joined the PGA Tour where he posted four victories – the 1974 Walt Disney World Team Championship with partner Hubert Green; the 1976 Southern Open; and, the 1978 Florida Citrus and Pensacola Open. The latter tournament was won with a par on the first extra hole of sudden death.

He had top 30 finishes in each of the three majors he teed up in – T29 in the 1978 Masters, T25 in the 1975 PGA Championship and T22 in the 1968 United States Open. He played in 15 majors between 1968 and 1979.

McLendon posted 43 top 10 PGA finishes and won $541,908 in official prize money.

Born in Atlanta, his family moved to Alabama when he was an infant.

McLendon won the Alabama State Junior Tournament in 1961 and 1962. Other early wins included the Future Masters (1961), Dixie Junior (1962), and the State Amateur (1962 and 1966). At LSU, he was also a first-team All-America in 1967 and inducted into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1970. He was a 2000 inductee into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

After leaving professional golf on his terms in 1981, he began a very successful career as a stockbroker and financial advisor. He authored a book, along with noted Alabama writer Niki Sepsas about his life, on and off the golf course. “Changing Courses, The Journey of PGA Tour Golfer Mac McLendon” includes an introductory story about Coach “Bear” Bryant trying to persuade McLendon to play golf for the University of Alabama.

According to a 2020 story, chapter one begins in 1963, when McLendon was a senior in high school. “…Answering the call, Mac was shocked to hear the gravelly-throated “growl” of Coach Bryant’s voice.

“…’I want you to come to the University of Alabama and play collegiate golf.’ Shocked almost beyond belief to be actually speaking to the man, it took Mac a moment to collect his thoughts before he could respond. When he did, that conversation would change the rest of Mac’s life.

“‘Coach, you don’t have a golf team at Alabama,’ Mac replied. “‘I know that,’ Bryant countered, “but we’re going to get a golf coach and begin a program. And you need to be part of it. How about a scholarship to play golf at Alabama?’”

The story continued with McLendon telling Bryant he had already been contacted by the legendary Dave Williams at the University of Houston, but turned him down as he had already signed a letter of intent to play for Coach Harry Taylor at LSU.

Bryant didn’t initially give up, but McLendon remained firm in his stance and Bryant complimented him. “He told me ‘Son, I won’t lie to you and tell you that I’m not disappointed, because I am. But you have my respect. Your parents raised you the right way. I wish you well at LSU.’ I’ve never forgotten that conversation,” McLendon noted.

All proceeds from his self-published book went to the Lance Robert McLendon Foundation, Joan and Mac’s son who tragically passed way from Crohn’s Disease. That foundation provides scholarships for young men and women seeking educational opportunities at Troy University. The Foundation also supports the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and Campus Outreach, a Christian organization for college students.

McLendon is survived by his wife, Joan; daughter and son-in-law Amy McLendon McLevaine and Jason McLevaine; grandsons Landon Clark and Garrett Robert McLevaine; and sister, Suzanne McLendon Vickrey.

The funeral will be Friday (July 8) at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama with visitation from 10:30 a.m. to Noon, with the service to follow.