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Jacobsen Recognizes Father's Influence in His Love for the Game
Peter Jacobsen is one of golf's most likable players. He also enjoys one of the most diverse golf-related careers of perhaps anyone in the game.
The Portland, Ore., native, who splits his time between homes in the Rose City and Bonita Springs, Fla., has his own golf course architecture firm, Jacobsen Hardy Golf Course Design; a management company, Peter Jacobsen Sports, a sports-marketing firm he created in 1988; he's been an on-course reporter for NBC and The Golf Channel; had cameo appearances in two popular movies, "Dead Solid Perfect" in 1988 and "Tin Cup" in 1996; and has co-authored two books about his life on tour, "Buried Lies: True Tales and Tall Stories from the PGA Tour," and "Embedded Balls: Adventures on and off the Tour with Golf's Premiere Storyteller."
In addition, Jacobsen created the Fred Meyer Challenge, a pro-pro, team best-ball event in Portland that drew such luminaries as Arnold Palmer (his partner), Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Paul Azinger and many other PGA Tour stars. The tournament was held from 1986 through 2002. One of its annual highlights was the performance by Jake Trout & the Flounders, a band Jacobsen formed with Mark Lye and Payne Stewart in the mid-1980s and played until Stewart's untimely death in a plane crash in 1999.
The event, locally known as "Peter's Party," went on hiatus in 2003 when Fred Meyer withdrew its sponsorship, but it's returning this year. The revived event is now called the Umpqua Bank Challenge and will be held August 28-30 at historic Portland Golf Club. Among the players Jacobsen has enlisted are Palmer, John Cook, Mark O'Meara, Jay Haas, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Lehman and Fuzzy Zoeller.
On Thursday, Jacobsen was named the winner of the 2012 Old Tom Morris Award by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the organization's highest honor. The award will go next to the Francis Ouimet Award Jacobsen received from the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund in 2006 for his lifelong contributions to golf.
On Thursday, "Jake" met with reporters at Inverness Club, site of this week's U.S. Senior Open. One of the biggest thrills of Jacobsen's career was his 2004 victory in that USGA championship.
In the following Q&A, Jacobsen describes how he was brought up by his father, Erling, to always love and respect the game. Also on hand was GCSAA president Bob Randquist, who officially notified Jacobsen of the Old Tom Morris Award.
Here's what the 57-year-old Jacobsen had to tell reporters.
MODERATOR: Okay, we'd like to welcome Peter Jacobsen to The Senior Open media center. Peter is the 2004 U.S. Senior Open champion, playing in his eighth Senior Open. Way too young to play in that many Senior Opens. Peter, you've had quite an experience playing USGA Championships, and I'd like to get your assessment of how your game's going and then a little bit about what you see at Inverness.
PETER JACOBSEN: Well, thank you. It's a pleasure to be back to Inverness, first of all. This was the site of my first USGA Championship back in '73. I qualified for the U.S. Amateur. I've been a part of the landscape of golf since I was a junior player. I played in the U.S. Junior, U.S. Amateur, and U.S. Open, and now the U.S. Senior Opens. Let me just say it's a pleasure to compete in any USGA Championship because they're always the most well-run and most fiercely contested championships because it is -- USGA is the governing body and they're always our national championship. So it was fun for me to play back in my first USGA Amateur here at Inverness. Then I came back for two PGA Championships here in '85 and '93, so it is a pleasure to come back here.
I think one of the great things about coming back to a unique golf course like Inverness is when we're gone for a period of time, you lose sight of the fact that these courses are some of the best golf courses in the world, and I think that's true with Inverness. These greens here are so unique. They're small, they're undulating. There's no green -- they're not like each other. They're all different unto each other. Some slope from left to right, some right to left, back to front. I played this morning with a couple of players, and yesterday we played, and we all commented about how unique each green was and how memorable each hole was. So it's a pleasure to be back here. My game right now, it's actually getting better. I've had a few physical setbacks in the last few years, which has really set my game back. I'm certainly not where I wanted to be the last few years with the way I played. But I fondly remember winning the 2004 U.S. Senior Open at Bellerive in St. Louis, and that was really the highlight of my career so far.
MODERATOR: And at Bellerive, you were not exactly in the best condition either.
PETER JACOBSEN: No, I think I had just had one of my first of my three hip surgeries, and I endured 36 holes on Monday -- no, Sunday, Sunday. I didn't know if it was Monday or Sunday. 36 holes in some searing heat. I remember walking to the first tee, walking with Walter Driver, and I said, Walter, I'm not sure I can play 36. He said, What do you mean? You're leading the tournament. I said, I understand that, but this is my first tournament back after having hip surgery three or four months earlier, and I just want you to know I may not be able to finish. But I got it. I won by one, and that was a lot of fun.
Q. How is your health right now? You've had a little better play lately.
PETER JACOBSEN: I've been playing a little better. Thank you. I'm feeling pretty good, actually. This week marks a one-year anniversary since my last back surgery, which I hadn't gone more than eight months since I turned 50 without having some sort of a major surgery. I think since I turned 50, I think I've had like 13 or 14 surgeries, knee replacement, hip replacement, shoulder, back. So this is kind of a milestone. It's one year. But I'm feeling better. The problem with when you go through surgeries, and everybody that's in here knows what I'm talking about, when you try to play at a level, this high level, you end up just trying to make a swing to get the ball in the hole and you create compensations in your golf swing. So right now I feel physically good, but I'm trying to erase those -- eliminate those compensations that I've been working with. I'm hitting better shots, more quality shots, and I'm working hard at it.
MODERATOR: Given your fondness for USGA events and fondness for a place like Inverness, does that significance to you get you a little more juiced up to play better? Do you feel like you can play better because of that?
PETER JACOBSEN: One of the things that is the highlight of my career, you see that little badge, whenever you get that USGA badge with your name on it, it gets you pumped up. That means that it's very special to be able to play in any USGA Championship. But playing the Champions Tour is fantastic. They call it the mulligan in our career. We have a chance to past the age of 50 go out and continue to chase the little golf ball, and chase our dream of playing professional golf. But playing in the USGA championships and playing in the U.S. Senior Open specifically this week for me gets your adrenaline pumping and gets your adrenaline flowing.
MODERATOR: You said something about the greens and the uniqueness of each green on each hole. Does that make your preparation more difficult? Do you spend more time on putting than you normally would based on that?
PETER JACOBSEN: Yes. I played with Nick Price, Jay Haas, and Jeff Sluman this morning, and we were all putting to the different quadrants. And we were very impressed, having a chance to see this again after having not been here for so many years, with all the nuances and the little folds of the earth, how there are so many different hole locations in a lot of the greens. I don't know what the USGA's going to do. I don't know how difficult they'll make it. They could make it very difficult by hiding certain pins, not just behind bunkers and bunker faces and bunker eyebrows, but by putting it into little folds of the green. It's a thrill. I think the older we get, the more we like to be tested. We all still want to believe that we have our best golf ahead of us, when sometimes clearly our best golf is behind us. But you can't convince any of us of that.
Q. When you talk about when you haven't been to a place for a long time can you sort of lose sight of it, are there other courses that come to mind that you put Inverness in a class with in that?
PETER JACOBSEN: Yeah, I played my last U.S. Open was Winged Foot. I think that was '06. I think I played three or four Opens at Winged Foot. But every time I go back to Winged Foot, I'm just absolutely blown away with the uniqueness of Winged Foot. I would put Oakland Hills in that. Now I haven't played Oakland Hills since they redid the greens, but I always loved Oakland Hills. Any time the USGA goes to a golf course, whether it's the U.S. Junior, U.S. Amateur, or U.S. Open or the Senior Open, Women's Open, you know those golf courses have been vetted. You know those are great championship golf courses. They're very selected. I know the courses like Inverness are very selected by what championships are tested here, and they should be. It's a unique golf course; it's a championship golf course. To win a U.S. Open or to win a USGA Championship, certainly the U.S. Open, Women's Open or Senior Open, you can't fake your way around it. You've got to have your nerves under control. You've got to be a great ball striker. And I think this week you'll see the guy that wins is the one that gets it up-and-down the most, makes the most five-, six-, seven-footers, and a lot of them for par.
Q. Can you give us your thoughts on what Bernhard Langer did last year by winning the British Open and coming to America and winning the Senior Open, and what Russ Cochran's going to face this week?
PETER JACOBSEN: I think a lot is made about the jet lag. One thing that people can't measure is adrenaline. And I think when you come from the Senior British to the Senior Open and you've won or you've had a good tournament, I think that adrenaline will carry you through this week. I think if you ask Bernhard Langer or Russ this week how do you feel, they're going to tell you they feel great. Where it's going to hit them is the week after. If they play next week on the Champions Tour at the 3M Championship up in Minneapolis, whether they play that or not, they're probably going to feel the effects of the jet lag and the adrenaline rush when they win the Senior British and come and win the U.S. Senior Open as well. So there is an adrenaline high. And all of us playing in this tournament and playing on the Champions Tour know that adrenaline can sustain you for two or three weeks at a time, oh, yeah. But then when you take a week off, that's when you hit the wall. I'll bet you Russ Cochran, when he comes in here, what time is his press conference -- he's going to float in. I guarantee it.
MODERATOR: You played the golf course this morning. Can you evaluate the condition for us?
PETER JACOBSEN: Yeah, played yesterday morning and the greens improved a great deal in one day. I think that's the genius of the superintendent, too. The superintendents around the country at these golf courses, they understand what they need to do to bring the golf course to championship condition. It was Tuesday morning, and that's obviously two days before the championship. So from yesterday to today I noticed the green speeds increased by probably a foot. The greens were cut down. In fact, Nick Price on the third hole today mentioned that these greens are in perfect shape right now. They're beautiful, and they are. The golf course is in exquisite shape. I love the bunkering here. Yesterday, Olin Brown, we played yesterday, and Olin Brown after five or six holes, he turned and said, now, why can't the architects build bunkers like this? These are fantastic. And I said, I don't know why. But I know everybody tries to emulate bunkers like Inverness. But I expect the golf course to be in perfect shape for the next four days.
Q. I don't know if you ever imitated Old Tom Morris's swing, but how does it feel to get an award in his name?
PETER JACOBSEN: Well, I'm honored to be able to receive this award from the GCSAA. My first job was working on the crew at Waverly Country Club on the greens crew. So I know how to -- it's appropriate. I know how to mow collars. I know how to mow greens. I know how to do a quick coupler when we do some hand watering. But that's one of the most important assets we have at golf courses and country clubs is the golf course. This week you'll be talking about great players, but what stands out to me is the common denominator here is the great golf course.
So I'm honored by this award, and I know Old Tom Morris was a great champion. He's a four-time British Open champion, but he was also one of the first greenskeepers in the history of the game over in Scotland. So I feel like I've benefited in all aspects of the game, not just from the great heros that came before me and played the game, like Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson, and Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen, but by all the great greenskeepers and superintendents and anybody that's ever mowed a green or hand-watered a tee or hand-watered a hotspot on a green during a championship or used a blower to blow off the tree limb that's blown on to the green on a windy day during the U.S. Open.
MODERATOR: The cat's out of the bag, but we want to make it official, and for a very special presentation from the GCSAA, I'd like to bring up the president, Mr. Bob Randquist.
BOB RANDQUIST: First of all, it's a real pleasure to be here today, and we appreciate the USGA allowing us to make this announcement today about our most prestigious award from GCSAA. Toledo is a special city for us. The first superintendents' organizational meeting of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America occurred at Toledo at Sylvania Country Club 85 years ago this September, so it's a special time for us and a great time. It was a treat to hear you mention this was one of your first USGA events here to play at Inverness. So thanks to the USGA. We really appreciate the relationship that we've been able to enjoy over the years with the USGA, their support for golf course superintendents everywhere with the USGA greens sections and the agronomists that help us. I can't tell you what a valuable tool that is for us.
So thanks to Jim Hyler and Mike Davis and other folks at the USGA that allowed us to do that. As you've already discovered from reading the press release, we are announcing that we are awarding our Old Tom Morris Award to Peter Jacobsen this year. He'll be officially presented that award at our educational conference in Las Vegas in February of next year, and we're looking forward to a very enjoyable time there with you, Peter. Let me be the first to officially say congratulations for accepting that award. I'd also like to tell you a little of the reason why Peter was selected in our minds, and I know this may sound a little different, but we love Peter's sense of humor. He was a keynote speaker at one of our conferences a number of years ago, and we were all in stitches the entire time that he was up there. And you say well, what does that have to do with golf? Well, let me tell you, Peter has a very clear understanding even as we chatted yesterday, that golf is about having fun, and sometimes we forget that.
We know that people at every level of competition, whether it be at a U.S. Open or at any other level of competition, that one of the great lasting things about this game is how much fun it can be. We appreciate seeing someone enjoy the game so much all the time. We also appreciate the fact that Peter is a true champion. He's accomplished himself very well on the golf course over the years. We recognize that. And I will tell you we are biased. He has been very clear over the years about his support and his praise of golf course superintendents, and we appreciate the level of appreciation that you've extended to us over the years, Peter. I want to ask you one question, and then we'll kind of wrap this up, hopefully. Can you share with us some of your comments about what the game itself really means to you?
PETER JACOBSEN: Well, my father was an unbelievable guy. He was a serviceman. He was a Navy flier off the Intrepid and the Enterprise aircraft carriers in the war. So there was no slacking off in our household when we learned how to play the game. We had to be serious about it and we had to learn how to do everything right. But he always said at the end of the day, remember it's a game and you're supposed to have fun and enjoy yourself. I think that's the one thing that when I first got my card and came out on the Tour, I pinched myself. I had to pinch myself that I was actually playing the game with these heros that my father admired and that I watched on TV at the CBS Golf Classic and Shell's Wonderful World of Golf.
But as I was growing up playing the game and dreaming of being on the Tour, I never lost sight of the fact of those that made it possible for me to be able to do what I do. And it was all the professionals that I worked with at the club, and all the teaching professionals that helped me, and a lot of those teaching professionals came through the PGA of America. But also, when I got my first paying job, which was working on the greens crew at Waverly Country Club in Portland, I developed a healthy appreciation for how difficult it is to maintain a golf course and keep it in championship shape day-in and day-out. People seem to forget that when we come to Inverness for one week of great golf, this golf course is in beautiful shape, but there are 51 other weeks that the superintendent here at Inverness and all the golf clubs that we play, they've got to maintain that golf course for the membership and for the public to come and enjoy that golf course. So I understand how this machine works, and I appreciate it, and I don't take it lightly.
I'm serious about my golf, but I'm also serious about the enjoyment of golf. That's why I've always tried to look at myself. I don't take myself too seriously. I take my golf seriously, but I don't take myself too seriously. Golf's a game, and I still have to pinch myself thinking that I get to play it for my living and have fun doing it. I want to win, I want to beat everybody every time I play. I hope to win this week and capture my second U.S. Senior Open Championship, but I'm going to have fun doing it along the way. There is no question about that.
BOB RANDQUIST: We look forward to seeing you in February.
PETER JACOBSEN: I look forward to it, Bob, thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.