John Jacobs at Stable Cottage

John Jacobs (1925-2017) & AGW Vice-President


It was at Hoylake in 1967 when we had dinner with Ken Bowden. Ken was the Editor of  Golf World, John was an expert on the golf swing  for the paper and I was a friend of both.

John was, for a while a consultant to the Swedish Golf Association, to help the aspiring youth to improve. It was raining hard that night and there was no way that play would start on time the morning after.

We ordered another bottle of wine. John, of course, being a Ryder Cup Captain, Player and a winner of many tournaments was the lead man that evening.  He was intrigued with the theory of ”Square to Square”, a new way of not only swinging the club, but also of hitting the ball.

Bowden was equally enthusiastic and I was considered to be a ”right shoulder man”. Before entering the restauerant I had swung my umbrella, to free it from rain. John noticed my way of doing just that.

”So”, he said, ”you are a right shoulder man”.

I am saying this in the kindest way. John had a perception that was uncanny.

He was brilliant.   He was one of the most eloquent and funny persons I have met. He was also warm and wonderfully sensitive. I always wondered how he came to win many tournaments, to play well at Ryder Cup and close to winning in the USA.  He was too perceptive, to sensitive to win.

But, again, he was a very good player.

Peter Alliss and I had planned a luncheon in London, just the three of us. We have come up short, but we have some very good memories of John, so we will have a lunch and toast to him.

Right shoulder?

Can I have it operated on, just to take it away?

PETER THOMSON  (AGW Vice-President)

John Jacobs was a legend in his own right.   To me he was a true friend, who was always a delight to be with during my stays in the UK.   I will remember him with happy memories and true affection.


The passion John Jacobs devoted to creating the European Tour leaves many remarkable memories, none better than those days in the 1960s when often he stood alone in heavy rain behind the 18th green at PGA tournaments collecting signatures for a petition. He actively embraced the Press of that era as an essential ingredient of his dream, and the growth and respect now enjoyed by the AGW is a part of his legacy. We have never had a better friend.


Alistair has pinned a wonderful tribute to John on the Golf Week website. Click on the link:-


As a child I had lessons from John Jacobs when he was the Professional at Sandy Lodge Golf Club. On one occasion he was telling me how to hit a shot with a wood. I teed up the ball, swung the club, hit the ball and the club went flying out of my hands up a tree. We both fell about laughing.  John contributed so much to the game over the years in so many directions. A delightful man, a good life led and always a pleasure to see him.


I played with John Jacobs at Sandy Lodge years ago. He had the crafted swing, with a hint of a pause at the top. It wasn’t the whiplash through the ball of Hogan, Woods or today’s Mac. He impressed everyone, in Egypt and at Sandown Park where I took Sally to the opening, and everywhere golfers gathered. He gave inspiring lessons and his picture, coaching me, is on a cover of the now defunct ‘Golfing’ magazine. Foolishly, I didn’t stop by in the New Forest to say Hello as we visited grandchildren. A fine man who put so much back….

John Ingram appearing on the front cover of Golf Illustrated receiving a lesson from John Jacobs.

John Ingram appearing on the front cover of ‘Golfing’ magazine receiving a lesson from John Jacobs.


John Jacobs was a titan of the game and man whose genius as a teacher of golf was only exceeded by his humanity and interest in others. He knew more about the golf swing than any other instructor I ever met while his role in helping construct the European Tour nearly 50 years ago was both pivotal and essential.


Mike Harris also penned a moving tribute John Jacobs that appears on the Golf Monthly website.

Here is the link:-

Neil Tappin and MIke Harris in the company of John Jacobs in 2012.

Golf Monthly’s Neil Tappin (left) and MIke Harris in the company of John Jacobs in 2012.


Bye, bye my friends!

You was the first person who teach me how hit the ball with my driver and sent the ball far away from the fence in San Roque Club during the Apollo Week in 1992. Since that moment, “open de door, close the door and, Isabel, hit the ball” was (and still are) my karma. When I lost my swing,you come back to my brain. I was proud to be your “spanish lefty”, and many times we comment what big was my smile in my face when I see the ball flying like a bird.

Isobel Trillo and John Jacobs

Every AGW Dinner was special if you been there. I know you love my “special funnys jokes”; always I have a new one reservated for you. We cry together when our friend Seve died,and I loved listen to you all your stories about my hero. The Ryder Cup never will be the same after you will card in 1979. Thanks

But not always talk about golf, not always. We talk about Spain, and Madrid, my town and one of your best town too. You come to Madrid many time for Masters Class to many spanish profesional.

European Tour founding father, Ryder Cup captain you change the concept of the team… the most Continental of my british friends. You was a visionary in many aspect of the sport and life and I feel very proud to be one of your “Spanish friend”.  You me very good lessons of golf and, more important, about life.

Descansa en Paz, mi buen amigo. Te echaré mucho de menos.


As a member of the AGW I would invite fellow AGW members to read two pieces that were posted on the European Tour website.

The first one, in particular, makes for excellent reading as it includes three feature pieces and a video that the Tour did with John in 2012 to make the 40th anniversary of the birth of the European Tour.




Met John Jacobs many times and a more gentle, humble gentleman you could not have hoped to have met, yet he was a master of his profession.  Will be much missed


Everyone involved in European golf, from players to officials and media to fans owes John Jacobs a great debt of thanks. He was the driving force behind the original European Tour at The Oval as well as being a tremendous coach in his own right.  He was also a warm, witty and kind person to meet and discuss his passion for golf.

I was privileged as the Sports editor of the local paper covering Wentworth to spend quite a lot of time with John when he was designing , with the help of Gary Player and Bernard Gallacher, the new Edinburgh (South) Course. I remember fondly trekking with him through Great Wood, wondering how anyone could see the course for the trees as he marked off those that would have to be felled, and the precious varieties that had to be saved.

I can recall his obvious delight when he announced his vision of the lovely short fifth hole with a perfect amphitheatre around the green. His enthusiasm was totally infectious and it was wonderful to see those visions become reality.   Ever since then he has always made a point of seeking me out at conferences and gatherings to talk about how his creation has grown and developed. I will miss those chats also I know so many of our colleagues will.


For its far ranging importance, John’s contribution to golf was unmatched.


Sad to hear John Jacobs has passed away. A lovely man, and one of the very best teachers the game of golf has ever produced.

During my time at Golf Illustrated, then later at Today’s Golfer, I had a number of opportunities to spend time with John. I recall a series for Today’s Golfer, in which we highlighted individuals who we felt had made a major contribution to the game of golf, and John was one of the first on our list. During the interview, I remember him bemoaning the fact that he had never wanted to be a teaching pro. Instead his ambition had always been to play pro golf. But it seemed every time he arranged  a few hours to himself to practice, one of the club members would approach him and ask for his help in sorting out their swing problems.

But for John’s invaluable contribution to the founding of the European Tour, it would have been much more difficult, if not impossible, to get the fledging tour up and running.  His great talent for teaching the game was based on keeping things a simple as possible; something many of today’s teaching pros could do well to copy. The only time I ever saw John even slightly annoyed, was prior to the start of the 1995 Ryder Cup Match at Oak Hill.

It was no secret that Seve Ballesteros was struggling with his game and John had spent a considerable time with him on the practice ground prior to the Spaniard’s opening match.

When I asked John how the session had gone, he said  he’d  spent most of the lesson trying to convince Seve to make a slight and simple change to his swing; a change which John felt could help Ballesteros keep his ball in the fairway from the tee. Eventually this change began to work and John left the practice ground happy to have helped. However, when he watched Seve hit his opening drive, John noticed that  Seve had reverted to his old method, which resulted in his tee shot missing the fairway by a considerable distance.

BEN EVANS (Associate Member with a tribute from Stephen Lewis, Chairman of the Golf Foundation)

“The Golf Foundation team was saddened to hear of the passing of John Jacobs OBE, who was a great friend of this golf charity. As the leading golf coach of his generation and a household name on both side of the Atlantic, John inspired many thousands of young people and children to take up the sport over the years.

Thanks to his wisdom, kindness, humour and generosity, these new golfers learned to play golf in the true spirit in which the game should be enjoyed.”

When I reflect on my life in golf, John Jacobs is always prominent in my thoughts.


I took my first steps in the game as a wide-eyed 10-year-old exactly fifty years ago, in 1967, and harbour fond memories of developing a keen interest in the game at the John Jacobs Golf Centre in Leopardstown on Dublin’s southside. Ireland’s first floodlit golf practice facility was launched the previous year with a view to popularising the game in the Emerald Isle, and there was a strong focus on attracting youngsters to take up golf.
Jacobs was a household name as a golf instructor at the time, and his vision for the Leopardstown venture was to provide Irish golfers with the opportunity to practice whenever it suited them, during daytime or at night under floodlights.
The concept took off like wildfire as leading professionals and amateurs honed their skills on the driving range alongside ordinary mortals and golfing novices.
Everyone at the facility shared a great passion for the game, which rubbed off on youngsters, and that’s the magic of the place to this day.
Indeed, Leopardstown Golf Centre, as it later became known, is an institution in Irish golf and today serves as a multi-faceted state-of-the-art game improvement centre.
John Jacobs will always be synonymous with one of the great success stories in Irish golf.
He was a class act and had  the great gift of being able to communicate easily with golfers on all levels.
I had the pleasure of welcoming John to Dublin in 1994 for the Legends Golf Society’s annual International Awards event. He was presented with our Legends in Golf award and joined a host of distinguished honorees, including Peter Alliss, Peter Dobereiner, Joe Carr, Christy O’Connor Snr, Peter Thomson, Doug Sanders and Mark McCormack.
Following a round of golf with former Walker Cup player Tom Craddock and rising amateur star Padraig Harrington, Jacobs was in his element as he regaled the Society’s 250 members with wonderful stories and memories long into the night.
He was very proud of the fact that one of his star pupils, Jose Maria Olazabal, was crowned Masters champion at Augusta National the previous month.
I also had the pleasure and privilege of spending two days with John at his country home in the south of England shortly after Backspin magazine was launched in 1999. He kindly agreed to a wide ranging interview and could not have been more welcoming, obliging and engaging.
When I think of John Jacobs, I think of a true legend and perfect gentleman.