Hurricane Golf's Jason Hiland recently had the opportunity to talk with Peter Jacobsen. A 7 time PGA Tour winner, a 2 time PGA Champions Tour winner (still competiting at 63) and commentator for Golf Channel and NBC, Mr. Jacobsen's an accomplished man and is still out there working hard. We were thrilled he took the time from his busy schedule to talk to us.
HURRICANE GOLF (HG): How has the transition from being a playing professional to a full-time broadcaster changed your outlook on the game? Are there moments or things you see when you are in the tower that you did not see or think about when you were playing full time? Also, do you miss playing full time on the Champions Tour and if you do, what do you miss most about it?
PETER JACOBSEN (PJ): At this point, I am still playing the Champions Tour so I would not say I am a full-time announcer, but I have been around the TV side of the game since early in my career, and what being a broadcaster has taught me, and from watching the the best players in the world from the tower, is to play the game that you have and do not try to play shots that you are not capable of. In other words, play to your strengths and when I do play on the Champions Tour, I try to take that concept into my own game as well
HG: What new equipment is in the bag this year and what benefits have you seen? Also, what ball are you playing and what shafts are in your clubs?
PJ: I had hip surgery 2 months ago, so I have not been able to practice with the new 2017 equipment quite yet, but I did get a new set of Srixon irons at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and will be practicing with those soon. I have them shafted with Nippon Steel shafts and I am using the new 2017 Srixon Z Star golf ball.
HG: You have had a great career: seven wins and playing the PGA Tour from 1977-2003 on a full-time basis. What were the biggest changes you saw from professional golfers in that time period, and were the changes good or bad for the game?
PJ: The biggest changes I have seen is the size and athletic ability of the players. When I was first playing the tour, no one talked about working out or worked out and now the guys are in great shape and are very athletic. The equipment has changed so much as well. The ball does not curve nearly as much and is much longer than what I played back in the day. The drivers and irons are so much easier to hit, and when you combine that with the athletic ability of the new generation, you are seeing the results, and overall it is good for the game!
HG: If someone would make you the czar of golf and let you make changes to a few rules, what changes would you make for the amateur game and for the professional game and why?
PJ: The one rule that comes to mind that I would change is the stroke and distance rule. I think it is too severe. I would change it to where you simply take a drop and you are back in play and not have the distance portion of the penalty be a part of the penalty. I would also not have separate rules for amateur golfers and professional golfers. I feel having one set of rules for golf makes the most sense.
HG: What was the best golf shot you ever hit on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour, and please describe the circumstances in which these shots were executed?
PJ: On the PGA Tour, it was the drive on 18 in the final round of the 1995 Pebble Beach Pro Am. I had a 2 shot lead and the wind was blowing. I was thinking to myself, "This is a big moment. It’s my favorite golf course in the world and you used to come down to the tournament and watch it as a kid and if you can finish this off this is a big win." I hit a great drive and ended up birdying the hole. Truly a great moment. On the Champions Tour, it was the second shot on the final day 2004 US Senior Open on the 18th hole. I had an 8 iron and I knew if I made a solid swing I had a chance at my first major. I hit a great shot that never left the flag and 2 putted for a 1 stroke victory over Hale Irwin.
HG: Can you describe the pressure that you feel when you are right there for a major win?
PJ: It is a really interesting feeling. It can go one of two ways. It can make things go fast and you are not comfortable, but other times that pressure can make you really focus and things actually slow down. But it is not much different than any other tournament on the PGA Tour or Champions Tour. Winning is very hard and there is always pressure when you are coming down the stretch for the win, but it is a feeling we as players want.
HG: On the Champions Tour, you did break through with 2 majors (Players and US Open). What did it mean for your career and describe the feeling on putting a major title in the trophy case?
PJ: When I won both of these in a very short period of time in my Champions Tour career, I thought this was going to be a normal occurance! But like I said before, winning is very difficult, and as I look back now at 63 years old, I am so proud of those victories and to have two majors is a special thing. The tour designates these as special events. They mean more to everyone and to have these titles makes me very proud
HG: My final question. Is there anyone more fun (besides you of course) to have a beer with than Roger Maltbie?
PJ: I could not agree with you more! Roger is a great guy but so are all of the other people I work with on the NBC broadcast! But if you want a great story over a beer, Roger has some classics!