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Jackson’s Career Spans Far And Wide

PINE VALLEY, NEW JERSEY | Nathan Smith received most of the attention at this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, and understand¬ably so. After all, the 34-year-old Pitts¬burgh native won the event for a record fourth time, cementing his stature as one of the greatest mid-amateurs ever. But a good subplot to that story involves the fellow Smith had to beat in the semifinals, Tennessean Tim Jackson, who is 19 years Smith’s senior – and whose amateur record is equally as impressive.
Consider that Jackson has two U.S. Mid-Am, and has played on a pair of Walk¬er Cup teams. He has also won the Ten¬nessee State Amateur Championship five times, the first in 1994 and most recently in 2012. In addition, Jackson has captured the state mid-am six times and taken both its state open and senior opens.
Not surprisingly, the Tennessee Golf Association has named Jackson Player of the Year nine times, and in the 2009 U.S. Senior Open, he stood atop the leader¬board after 36 holes – ahead of fellows such as Greg Norman and Bernhard Langer – before faltering a bit on the final day to end up in 11th place. And the Memphis native hasn’t slowed down in his 50s. In fact, Jackson not only made his big run at the Mid-Am title this past year and won his fifth Tennessee State Am but also prevailed at the prestigious Coleman Invitational at Seminole and finished fifth at the Northeast Amateur, where the field is dominated by big-hitting hard-bellies.
All told, Jackson has qualified for 48 United States Golf Association champion¬ships over the years, which makes him an amateur icon in his own right, notable for his ability to compete so well for so long.
As well as he has been playing, how¬ever, Jackson is not at all sure how much longer he will keep doing it. “I don’t know how interested I’ll be in senior amateur golf,” he says, looking ahead two years to when he will be eligible to do so.
“Some guys really like it, but the course set-ups are short, and I don’t see it as en¬joyable as what I am doing now, where ball striking and pars are so important. Senior amateur golf seems more of a putting contest. So, maybe I’ll just play a couple more years of regular amateur golf.”
It remains unclear as to exactly what he will do once he turns 55. “But even if I never play senior golf, I can look back on my career knowing I competed hard and well,” says Jackson, who now lives in Germantown, Tenn., and makes his living in private real estate development after working for many years as a CPA.
And he intends to keep competing for a bit longer, driven by an enduring passion for tournament golf and the prospects of playing some events the next couple of years with the younger of his two sons, 18-year-old Austin, who has pretty good stick himself.
Jackson the elder says he has long been passionate about competitive golf, and that emotion is what has kept him in the game for so long. “I love golf and am still interested and motivated in playing it well,” he says. “I still believe I can do better, and get better. And I like that there are so many different, moving parts to it. I love the human side, the fact that anything can happen in a given round, the ways a player has to put himself out there, to fail or to succeed.”
Of course, it is not always easy preparing to go out there as you get older. “Certainly, the game gets more challenging mentally,” says Jackson, who counts his two Walker Cup appearances as well as his run at the 2009 U.S. Senior Open among his career highlights. “Tee to green, my game is as good as it has ever been. But it is harder to keep that focus and edge. Maybe it’s a result of where I am in life. I have lots of interest. My wife and I bought a farm some years ago, and we put in a lot of time with that. I have four or five business projects going on at any one time. So, trying to put it all aside to play at such a high level is not always so easy.”
Neither is staying in top physical shape. “I did a lot of training in my 30s and 40s, but not so much the past four or five years, and I’ve paid for it,” he says. “I need to get back into the gym and get a little stronger and a little more flexible. I need to lose some weight.”
Jackson’s competitive spirit as well as his love of golf would no doubt be enough to get him back in the gym this off-season. But the prospects of playing in some of the same tournaments with son Austin is only added incentive. “He has been push¬ing me, and my hope is that we can play a couple of major amateur tournaments together each of the next couple of years and travel together some. That would be a lot of fun.”
It would also be a fitting way to begin bringing a long and successful amateur golfing career to a close.


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