16 Jan 17
Jim Farmer can reel off the qualities that made the world of golf take John Jacobs to its heart – his passion, his knowledge, his joyful teaching, his zest for life.
But perhaps it was his ‘share the love’ approach to golf that will have the most lasting impact on the game.
According to former PGA captain Farmer, one of the reasons he admired Jacobs so much was his enthusiasm for sharing knowledge. Teaching the teachers. Welcoming the fascinated and those determined to improve into his inner circle so they could learn, master and then spread the word.
“When you look around the world now and see youngsters learning the game, they are being taught so much better,” Farmer explained. “They learn the fundamentals so they can improve more quickly and play better.
“That’s in no small measure down to John. He wasn’t just about improving golfers, he loved to teach the teachers too. All the work he did around the world in countries like Spain and Germany and Portugal, coaching and teaching other teachers. He spread understanding which can be seen when youngsters learn the game. He knew how important it was to do that. He was an open man, open to anyone who wanted to learn.”
And even in his advancing years Jacobs' passion for teaching never waned – like the morning breakfast meeting Farmer invited his friend along to while he was PGA captain.
“There were one hundred or so PGA members and lots of youngsters too,” Farmer explained. “We sat down for a breakfast meeting and at 2pm John was still going strong. He wasn’t really supposed to stand up then. But he did. He couldn’t resist, so he could explain and teach. It was a spectacular day for everyone.”
Farmer, who coached generations of top amateurs and professionals, including Open Champion Paul Lawrie, admits Jacobs’ swing theories are all he ever needed, saying: “John’s swing fundamentals could make anyone play well.
“And more than anything else, they ensured golfers understood their swings, so they could correct them. A lot of young professionals now will work with their coaches before they go out and then again when they have completed their rounds – but you wonder how many of them are equipped to deal with any issues themselves.
“John’s fundamentals about grip, posture, alignment, swing path, divot and ball flight enabled golfers to help themselves. John always made it so simple. There was nothing complicated in the way John taught. It is why I have stuck to his philosophies all my life.
“And in an era of launch monitors and TrackMan, you do not hear as much about rhythm anymore – and that was another fundamental in the way John taught.
“It’s important to remember too that John was teaching at a time when equipment was completely different. The heads on the clubs were smaller, particularly the driver. It meant you had to hit the ball right out of the middle if you wanted it to fly.”
Farmer also admired the fact that Jacobs was never afraid to tell a professional what was wrong with his or her swing – even a legend of the game like Jack Nicklaus.
“John told Jack that if he wanted to have a long career in the game, he needed to stop tilting and start turning more. You had to be confident in your ability to tell someone of Jack’s stature how to improve. But John was right. And years later Jack wrote to him and told him so.
Farmer added: “He was a great man, a great friend. I loved him to bits.”
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