Peter Jacobsen - The "Johnny Carson of Golf"
Peter Jacobsenís world of opportunities comes
together this August at the Jeld-Wen Tradition
by Jim Pasero
you dial up the PGA Tour’s Greater Hartford Open on the Internet
looking for this year’s tournament, the face that you’ll see
on the home page is Peter Jacobsen.
the defending champion, having shot four consecutive rounds in the 60s
(63,67,69,67–266) to win last year’s tournament for the second
time in his career—only this time he won it at the age of 49.
on the PGA Tour at 49 is a big deal. Just think of past champions who
have won late in their careers and the lore that persists about their
triumphs—Julius Boros winning the PGA Championship in ’68
at 48, or Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters at 46 in ’86. And the
oldest golfer ever to win a PGA event—Sam Snead in 1965, when he
won the Greater Greensboro Open for the eighth time in his career at 53.
It’s no wonder winning the Hartford Open at 49 earned Peter Jacobsen
the PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year in 2003. Not a bad accomplishment
for the world’s undisputed “clown prince” of golf—a
clown who honed his skills for 20 years as the AT&T national pro-am
partner of actor Jack Lemmon.
the Hartford Open wants him adorning their website.
false advertising. Peter Jacobsen is not going to Connecticut this year.
Instead, the former Lincoln High graduate is busy this year (August 23–29)
serving as the defacto “player host” for the Champions Tour,
Jeld-Wen Tradition. The Tradition is the last senior major of the year,
and the only major on the Champions Tour, like the Masters, to be by invitation
for a limited prestigious field.
ago on March 4, Peter Jacobsen turned 50. At the age when most professional
athletes might be on the lecture circuit, or writing their memoirs, Jake
is actually getting busier. A lot busier. After a short recovery from
minor hip surgery this April—here’s just a brief sketch of
his hectic travel plans this summer. “I will play at the British
Sr. Open, the Jeld-Wen Tradition, the Sr. U.S. Open, the U.S. Open, the
Sr. PGA, and the PGA. I am busier now than before.”
just his golf schedule, which is just a fraction of Jacobsen’s business.
Says Jacobsen about his career and his aggressive promotion of both golf
and his career,
“I’ve won seven golf tournaments in my career, and I hope
to win more, but I love opportunities in the game, whether it’s
television, or tournament operations, or tournament creation, or golf
course design. I look at that all as opportunities within
the game, and I’ve jumped at those opportunities and I’m glad
Peter has jumped on so many opportunities that his worlds are coming together
in late August at the Jeld-Wen Tradition. His company, PJP Productions
and Ed Ellis will be running The Tradition for Jeld-Wen. One of his three
current shows on The Golf Channel (founded by his close friend Arnold
Palmer and run by Cleveland High School alum Dave Manougian) will be aired
from the deck of The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club. “Peter and
Friends” will discuss “the state of the game and the day’s
events at the Tradition.”
will also be playing in the tournament, chasing a major championship title
on a course that he knows well and was for five years the home of the
Fred Meyer Challenge.
he gets to the Reserve this August, he’s jumping on his other golf
opportunities, playing full-time on the regular PGA tour, playing part-time
on the PGA senior tour, and anchoring three shows on the Golf Channel…and
yet there’s more.
Jacobsen began airing a two-month long weekly “Real Life”
series of 90-second vignettes shown on CBS during PGA telecasts. Jacobsen
stars, hosting fellow golf professionals who share their hobbies.
see Steve Elkington tend a garden, Steward Cink bake pastries, Brett Quigley
go surfing, Bob Burns brew beer, Joe Ogilvie pick financial stocks, Tim
Petrovic’s Jim Morrison memorabilia, or Oregon’s Ben Crane
fly-fish on the Sandy River? Tune in this spring on CBS telecasts beginning
with The Heritage Foundation in April, and end with Nicklaus’s Memorial
Tournament in late May. The series is sponsored by Jeld-Wen.
the series’ producer and a Jeld-Wen employee, explains the company’s
thinking behind the spots: “We came up with the idea along with
Peter. We wanted to see what we could do with Peter in a creative way,
using talented but lesser known players, giving TV viewers a peak into
their lives. We pitched it to CBS, they agreed to it, and it airs as part
of their telecast.”
Two of the
episodes were filmed in Florida, two in Texas, and two at Hilton Head
in South Carolina. And, one, of the seven, Ben Crane fly-fishing was filmed
in Oregon in December on the Sandy River. Not to worry about how Oregon
holds up to the other sunnier locations—Monterossi says the Oregon
episode is spectacular. “We caught the only beautiful day we had
is a natural performing for Jeld-Wen in the CBS “Real Life”
series, it’s a skill he’s spent years perfecting—beginning
some years back now as one of the programming foundations of The Golf
Channel. Jacobsen stars in “Plugged In” with Los Angeles-based
comedian Matt Griesser, otherwise known as the Sign-Boy in the Foot-Joy
ad campaigns. Jacobsen also hosts “Peter and Friends,” where
he talks the game candidly with his peers.
more exciting, this year Jacobsen is revising the once made-for-television
show “Celebrity Golf,” which aired in the ‘50s, starred
Sam Snead, and was moderated by Burns and Allen regular Harry Von Zell.
Peter Jacobsen gain such a prominent role on the growing Golf Channel?
Peter explains: “I built the first NIKE golf shoe with Rick Long,
and when we started the NIKE golf program, Dave Manougian was the national
sales manager for NIKE. So I’ve known Dave forever. A couple of
years ago we met at the AT&T Pro-Am and said, let’s do some
programming. We now do three shows for them.”
explains the motivation behind the popular and imaginative national shows.
“What I’m happy to be part of is fresh programming. We created
‘Plugged In’ and ‘Peter and Friends’ because I
thought there was a niche that needed to be filled. People wanted to see
an interesting side of golf. On ‘Plugged In,’ we do some silly
things, some funny things, and on “Peter and Friends” we actually
sit and talk about issues.”
Kossoff is Jacobsen’s producer for his three Golf Channel shows,
and Jacobsen says he’s lucky to have him. “Kossoff is the
most requested producer of any of those shows on the Golf Channel.”
discusses the unusual chemistry between Jacobsen and Griesser in the series
“Plugged In” when they approach the “man on the street”
to teach golf. “We were in Hawaii taping on the beach teaching the
public golf—Matt and Peter style, says Kossoff. “It’s
not real golf they are teaching, but it’s amazing what they can
get people to do with a golf club.”
amazing that despite all the hijinks, says Kossoff, “People learn
the producer know when “Plugged In” has hit its mark? “When
I get to the point that I’m crying because I am laughing so hard,
then I know it’s a success.”
and Friends” discusses the state of the game and Kossoff knows exactly
why it works. “Peter has been there, so the pros will talk to him
about things they wouldn’t talk to others about.”
gives this example: When Peter talked to Australian Craig Parry about
what NBC commentator Johnny Miller said about his swing, Miller said,
“Craig Parry’s swing would make Ben Hogan puke.”
controversial in his commentating style and players have tremendous opinions
about Johnny Miller and Peter loves to fuel that fire,” says Kossoff.
“Plugged In” and “Peter and Friends” are ratings
favorites at The Golf Channel. But the show debuting this month, “Celebrity
Golf,” has the potential to capture national attention. In the early
‘60s version of the show, Sam Snead took on Hollywood types in nine-hole
celebrity matches. Some of the stars taking part back then: Harpo Marx,
James Garner, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.
president Manougian got the idea for a remake of the series when the network
bought Bob Hope’s library. “In Hope’s library were these
classic episodes, and we began airing them,” says Manougian. “We’re
always thinking about how to use Peter more and more and so I talked to
Peter about it at last year’s Jeld-Wen Tradition, and the more we
talked about it the more excited he got about it.”
four episodes of “Celebrity Golf” were taped. In the episodes,
Jacobsen takes on Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper, Spin City’s Richard
Kind, Animal House’s D-Day—Bruce McGill, and actor George
Lopez. And of course, Jacobsen, with apologies to Snead, has brought his
own style to the new “Celebrity Golf.”
all, a moderator like Harry Von Zell, isn’t needed. Says Kossoff,
“We don’t need an announcer with Peter; Peter is his own announcer.
He asks the questions, does his own play by play, he can pull it off.”
hits some spectacular golf shots along the way.
change in the format of “Celebrity Golf” concerns a rumor
that Peter doesn’t go undefeated in his matches. “I can tell
you right now that I get beat,” says Jacobsen. “Dennis Hopper
Jay Kossoff won’t comment on Peter’s won-loss record but he
does says one of the most interesting aspects of the show is the conversations
that emerge during the matches. “Bruce McGill talked about acting
and about John Belushi. Dennis Hopper talked about how golf saved his
life when he quit drugs, because golf was the one diversion that gave
him something to concentrate on.”
In the original
show, Sam Snead tied actor James Garner, but it is doubtful that Snead
made a habit of draws with Hollywood types. The black and white tape shows
Snead not looking very happy over his tie with Garner or the two-iron
Garner hits inside of Snead on the next to last hole.
says that episode with Garner and Snead shows why golf is such a fun game.
“If you put James Garner in a baseball game he would not hit a great
pitcher, no way, but in the game of golf it can happen—you can make
that one swing and hit it as good as Peter and Tiger would hit it.”
reason Peter’s matches may be closer than Snead’s. “I’m
very liberal with mulligans for my celebrity opponents,” he says.
“I’m a lot more charitable than Sam. After all, you can always
take the mulligans out in the editing process.”
about the mulligans, “Peter likes a close match.”
imagine the depression-born West Virginian Snead, who had a habit of burying
his money in coffee cans in the backyard, giving mulligans. Not so Jacobsen.
Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman about the mulligans, “That’s
just Jake. He loves to buck the system. If there is a pattern, he wants
to break it—to put the Jake touch on things. To me he is the Johnny
Carson of golf.”
Carson of Golf he is. But he’s also a good enough player, as he
proved last year on the PGA Tour, to win the Jeld-Wen Tradition. So on
August 29th don’t be surprised if he is sitting on the balcony of
The Reserve interviewing the tournament’ s winner on “Peter
has the training and talent to interview themselves, it would be Jacobsen.
And that’s without a mulligan.
BrainstormNW - May 2004