Jacobsen not afraid to have funShowing his entertaining side helped open many doors for PGA golfer, Mike Ulmer finds
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun
It wasn't hard to tell when the boss stepped into the office yesterday at the Altamira Charity Challenge at the Toronto Board of Trade Country Club.
Peter Jacobsen was like a Shriner among the morticians, glad-handing celebrities, posing with kids for pictures, signing stuff and cracking jokes at the Woodbridge event.
The day of celebrity gawking, golf and schmoozing only really began when he walked between the ropes.
The Altamira Charity Challenge is a PJP -- Peter Jacobsen Productions -- property.
It is one of about half a dozen PJP will stage this year and it was pleasantly glitzy with Aussie Stuart Appleby and American Shaun Micheel from the PGA Tour, Cassie Campbell on hand to represent women's sports and Doug Gilmour on tap to satisfy the hockey celebrity quotient.
The event has raised $4.5 million US for charity over the past decade and somewhere there is a meter running on how many millions Jacobsen has directed toward the greater good. His Fred Meyer Challenge Pro-Am event in his hometown of Portland, Ore., has generated $10 million over 17 years. PJP has staged over 100 events since Jacobsen formed the company in 1988.
Men's golf does not lack for money or hard-eyed young Republicans but it has, since the long ago autumns of Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez, pined for personality.
Unsurpassed excellence, in the form of Tiger Woods, it can bring to the table by the metric tonne. But Woods' countenance in victory is the clenched jaw and the fist pump.
Woods is, despite his recent troubles, obviously superb, but never ingratiating and, perhaps with the exception of Phil Mickelson, no one with the proper demeanour (including the blandly Canadian, or is it the Canadianly bland Mike Weir), can bring the game.
Into the personality void long ago stepped Peter Jacobsen, who has won seven times in 26 years on the PGA tour, most recently in Hartford in 2003.
"When you write down the phrase 'game of golf,' " the 50-year-old Jacobsen said yesterday, "stop at the word game. It has to be fun and it has to have play."
Play and personality, aside from a golf game good enough to win on the Tour, is what got Jacobsen noticed.
He is a dead-on mimic, a musician and a terrific speaker. Among golfers, that makes him Billy Crystal.
Jacobsen brought down the house at pro-ams and various appearances imitating Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Craig Stadler. That led to gigs as a television analyst for ABC which would later lead to his own show on The Golf Network, Peter Jacobsen Plugged In, whose cameras were rolling yesterday.
"None of these things were planned," Jacobsen said. "I just saw some opportunities."
And then some.
There is a book, Buried Lies: True Tales and Tall Stories from the PGA Tour.
There is a video game, Peter Jacobsen's Golden Tee Golf.
There is a five-year deal to wear the Lexus brand on his golf shirt and another endorsement with Infone, a telephone valet service that smeared its logo all over Smarty Jones jockey Stewart Elliott.
There is the Peter Jacobsen Swing Jacket, an apparatus that corrects your swing as you practise.
There are courses that list Peter Jacobsen as the designer or co-designer in Naples, Fla., Houston and Nevada.
There is PJP headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and offices in Providence, Baltimore, Fresno and Kansas City.
Somewhere, Peter and Jan Jacobsen found time for three kids.
And so, Jacobsen speaks with a wealth of credibility when he bemoans the lack of colour on the PGA Tour.
"You use the phrase Young Republicans, but it isn't Republican or Democrat, American or Canadian that matters. The key word is entertainer."
Can you teach today's golfers to be fun or engaging?
Jacobsen thinks you can and you must.
"I think the PGA has to educate players that part of the job is play. And to play means to have fun," said a guy who knows an awful lot about both.