St Ives (Hunts) Golf Club, Centenary 2023.
On Friday, the 14th of July, Tony Jacklin was in town to help celebrate the Centenary year of St Ives (Hunts) Golf Club. Thanks to Tom Munt, the General Manager at the club, we were able to spend some time talking to the golfing legend, Tony Jacklin.
Q. Tony, thank you for your time and for talking to us at What’s the Buzz Magazine. How did you get into golf?
My dad started to play, and I would pull his trolley for him. When we got away from the members’ eyes, he would let me have a go. This all started in the summer of 1953. I was immediately smitten with golf and became self-taught. By the time I was 13, in 1957, I had gotten pretty good, and I won the Lincolnshire Junior Championship. By the time I was 15, I was a county player. I left school at 15, and I really didn’t want to do anything but be a golfer. But living and growing up in Scunthorpe, it wasn’t that easy to do. You had to become an assistant to break into golf. So I worked in the steelworks for a year. Then, I got an interview as an assistant at Potters Bar Golf Club. My dad took me down, I got the job at the age of 17 in 1962, and the rest is history, as they say. I made the cut at The Open in 1963 as a 19-year-old, and I became the first player in the UK to make a living from playing golf. I was young, very ambitious, and I wanted to be the best player in the world. To do this, I needed to play with the best.
Q. On that note, who was the best player you played with?
The best player I ever saw was Ben Hogan. I got to play with him in 1970. As a young man, I copied his fundamentals for golf. He was something else, nobody was as good as Hogan. I know Nicklaus (Jack) accumulated more Majors, but Hogan was from an era where the Majors were not like they are today. Back in the 40s and 50s, the best players did not make it their mission to win Majors. Hogan only played in 27 Majors, and he won 9.
Q. What are your hobbies outside of golf?
Woodwork. I have done this my whole life; I enjoyed it at school, and it occupies me now. I don’t play much golf these days. I enjoy woodwork; I make bowls, turn wood, and create beautiful handcrafted marquetry artwork. (Tony proceeded to show me some quite incredible pieces of his work). Unfortunately, as we get older, we get worse at golf, so woodwork pleases me.
Q. Do you have a favourite memory from your golfing career?
I am fortunate to have a lot of them. Winning the 1969 Open Championship was pretty special. Winning the 1970 US Open, which was the first time a European player had won the tournament in its 84-year history. And then, of course, the Ryder Cup, captaining Europe to their first victory in 1985 gave me enormous joy. In many ways, winning the Ryder Cup was a lot more rewarding than my individual wins. You are dealing with 12 different individuals, trying to read their minds in what is a roller coaster of emotions. The relationships I made during this time are very special to me, and I feel very blessed to have the most amazing memories of what was an incredible time, and a great time for golf. I have 15 grandchildren now, with another on the way, and I have many stories to tell them.