U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Time Is Now for Two-Time USGA Champion Jackson
September 30, 2015 | Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Tim Jackson admires his elders in senior amateur golf circles. He just doesn’t expect to become one of them.
“Guys like [2014 U.S. Senior Amateur champion] Pat Tallent and [two-time USGA champion] Vinny Giles, it’s super that they play in all of these events,” said Jackson, 56, of Germantown, Tenn. “I just don’t see myself doing that. I’m going to play [competitive] golf for two or three more years, and then I’ll be done.”
Jackson has played on the national stage for more than two decades, and he has two USGA titles on his résumé: the 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur. He has also been the low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open three times, a record he shares with Giles. But the two-time USA Walker Cup competitor makes no secret of his disdain for the travel required to play in national golf events.
“I got excited when I qualified for this championship,” said Jackson. “But then as it got closer, I got this sense of dread about packing bags and getting on planes and getting delayed… Once you’re here, it’s fine. I just don’t see myself doing this at 60.”
Jackson, the No. 4 match-play seed in this, his second U.S. Senior Amateur, plays No. 5 Gary Robinson, of Fayetteville, N.C., at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinal round. In his debut last year at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif., Jackson finished second in stroke-play qualifying and lost in extra holes to 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randal Lewis in the Round of 32. Lewis, the 2015 medalist, is playing three-time U.S. Amateur semifinalist Chip Lutz in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
Outside of U.S. Senior Opens, for which he was eligible at age 50 [the U.S. Senior Amateur and most other senior amateur events have a minimum age of 55], Jackson has competed in just a handful of senior championships.
“I have only played in probably six tournaments – I played in two events at Seminole as a senior, two of these, and two [Tennessee] state seniors,” said Jackson, who added with a chuckle, “Motivation is very lacking.”
He said that will change, at least for the next couple of years.
“I’m going to commit to it next year,” said Jackson. “I will play in this event, the British and Canadian Seniors, and a couple of my state events. After a couple more years, though, I’m going to turn the page and do something different.”
It’s not as though Jackson has a lot left to accomplish: the six-time Tennessee Player of the Year won the 1995 Simon Bolivar Cup in Venezuela and played on Walker Cup Teams with Tiger Woods (1995) and Matt Kuchar (1999). He was inducted into the Southern Golf Hall of Fame in 1999.
“I don’t have a [regular] game – I don’t play on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Jackson. “I try to practice two or three days a week for two hours. When my son is home for the summer, I play with him and his college buddies.”
Jackson enjoys competing with Austin, who is a junior at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where he plays golf. Jackson recalled the two of them playing together in the spring of 2012.
“I hadn’t played much golf, and I went out and shot 75 or 76 two days in a row,” said Jackson. “I was headed to Seminole [for the Coleman Cup] to compete in the regular division, and I told my son I was excited about playing in it. He said, ‘What are you excited about, you can’t even break 75!’ I told him I was probably going to win it, and he said, ‘The way you’re playing right now?’ Well, I won, and I called him and told him to pull up the Internet and see how his old Pops did.
“I love kicking his butt,” Jackson joked. “He has beaten me several times when we go out and play, but I have told him, you’ll never beat me in a tournament. As long as I play, if you and I are in the same field in a tournament, you will not beat me.”
Perhaps that’s another reason why Jackson is determined not to play competitively for much longer.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.