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January 17, 2017

Tribute to John Jacobs

"The Theory of Relativity is an extremely complex concept that Einstein reduced to a simple formula. This genius was able to condense a before unimaginable theoretical hypothesis to an understandable concrete mathematical equation. One definition of a genius is to reduce a complex issue to intelligible terms. John Jacobs, who just passed away at the age of 91, was an Einstein of making the mechanics of the golf swing a comprehensible, easy to understand movement.

One of his mantas was "Make it do-able and keep it simple." I was fortunate to meet him and attend a full day seminar where he was the sole lecturer. He entertained and captivated the audience of Indiana PGA professionals in Indianapolis in 1980 for the entire five hours of his seminar. His teaching was predicated on fundamentals based on ball flight, club face alignment and swing path. His insights were viewed as revolutionary by some, but they changed the way golf was understood and taught. There probably isn't a PGA teacher in America, Europe, or around the world that hasn't been influenced by what John Jacobs introduced so many years ago. Around 1970, John teamed with Shelby Futch to start the highly successful John Jacobs Golf Schools. The curriculum was based entirely on Jacobs's principles and has been a huge success that is still going strong today. At the golf schools' height there were 40 sites with international locations in Mexico, Spain, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

I knew John Jacobs mainly as a golf instructor, but his influence was even greater for the European Tour and the Ryder Cup. A very good player in his own right, he played on the British Ryder Cup team in 1955 and captained the team twice and was the captain of the 1979 team that saw the inclusion of European players being added to the original British and Ireland only squad. He oversaw the expansion of the European Tour from a second tier tour to what it is today. Most believe without his vision and leadership the success it has experienced would not have been accomplished. He has been called the father of modern golf teaching. He wrote the teaching manuals that are used for PGA professional organizations all over Europe. His bestselling 1972 book "Practical Golf" is a classic and should be in every serious golf instructor's or golf students library.

"I was mad to be a great player," he stated in an interview, "but, I got a flippin' reputation as a teacher and I only wanted to be a player. But we don't always get to choose our gifts." Good thing we got to share his gifts. I have a friend that knew Mr. Jacobs very well in England and he confirms that he was a person of exception wit and charisma. His character was very British and solid and his love of the game of golf the consuming force in his life. Truly a great man that made a significant contribution to the game of golf. A final quote from the great John Jacobs: "Playing golf is simple - it's two turns and a swish." Sounds like E=MC squared!


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