Former Cleveland Plain Dealer golf writer George Sweda will be honored with the Journalism Award for his more than 30-year commitment to professional golf’s tradition at Firestone Country Club. Sweda will be formally recognized on Wednesday, August 1 during the Ambassador of Golf Ceremony at Firestone Country Club on the eve of the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“When Don Padgett III told me about the award, I thought he was asking me for nominees. Then he said, ‘No, George, you are getting the first one,’” Sweda said. “I was surprised and overwhelmed. It got very emotional for me when I told my wife what had happened. Because Firestone in basically in my backyard, I’ve probably written more words about it than any other place, even Augusta National and Muirfield Village, thanks to PGA Tour events, three or four Northern Ohio PGA events on the property every year and some amateur events.”
A Cleveland native, Sweda was a journalism major at Ohio State University where he was sports editor, managing editor and eventually editor of the student newspaper, The Ohio State Lantern. He joined the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1972, where he was a summer intern while still in college. He first covered golf at Firestone Country Club during the 1975 PGA Championship, when Jack Nicklaus made his famous par on the signature 16th hole despite a penalty stroke.
A year later, he took over The Plain Dealer golf beat full time and kept it for over 30 years, covering every event at Firestone until he retired in 2008.
“As we prepare to celebrate the 65 years of professional golf at Firestone Country Club during this year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, we felt it was appropriate to honor George, who had a front-row seat to several defining moments at Firestone over the years,” said Executive Director Don Padgett III. “From covering Nicklaus’ PGA triumph in 1975 to Tiger’s sixth WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title in 2007, George has played a key role in putting Firestone on the map as one of the top venues in all of golf. We look forward to acknowledging his impact at Firestone next month.”
A life member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Sweda is also an honorary member of the Northern Ohio PGA and the Northern Ohio chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. He was one of four writers inducted into the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 and inducted into the Northern Ohio Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2008.
He and his wife Carol have been married for 51 years. While still in Columbus, during the first five years of their marriage, she was personal secretary to Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes. They have four children and 11 grandchildren, all living within 15 minutes of their home in Concord Twp., near Painesville.