John Jacobs, a two-time European Ryder Cup captain and founding father of the European Tour, died Friday. He was 91.
The World Golf Hall of Fame inductee led a fascinating life, impacting the game as a player, teacher and administrator. A member of the Royal Air Force, Jacobs turned professional after the World War II and would go on to win two professional events. In 1955, he finished in a tie for 12th at the Open Championship and played in the Ryder Cup, beating Cary Middlecoff in a singles match.While he excelled as a player, his legacy will run much deeper because of what he accomplished later. In 1971 he became the tournament director-general for the Professional Golfers’ Association, the forerunner to the European Tour, serving in that role for four years and helping to create the modern tour schedule. The European Tour’s inaugural season was in 1972.
Jacobs also captained a pair of Ryder Cup teams in 1979 and 1981. Although both European sides lost by a wide margin to the United States, future legends such as Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo got their first taste of the competition during those years.
But perhaps his greatest legacy will be instruction. Jacobs set up a driving-range business in the United Kingdom in 1972, writing several books like (ital)Practical Golf(end ital) and (ital)Golf Doctor(end ital). Many, including Butch Harmon, have noted his contribution.
“John Jacobs wrote the book on coaching,” Harmon once said. “There is not a teacher out there who does not owe him something.”