Peter Jacobsen once said if there was a Hall of Fame for having fun, “I’d be there.”
That’s not the only one. In a Hall of Fame for the Good Guys, Jacobsen would be a charter member.
For 37 years on the PGA TOUR, Jacobsen has proven time and again that he is a man of the people, a caring person who loves what he does and the people he does it with and for. It is Jacobsen’s stock-in-trade and it is widely embraced throughout the golf industry, whether he’s recording albums as Jake Trout, designing courses, supporting charities and initiatives, doing television commentary, impersonating Jason Dufner or Lee Trevino or just being himself.
Jacobsen today was named the recipient of the 2013 Payne Stewart Award.
“Payne and I did so many things together,” Jacobsen said. “I’ve watched the progression of that award over the years and I have always admired guys who won it and obviously admired Payne so much. We all did. He was like a brother, such a good guy.”
The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually to a professional golfer who best exemplifies the values of character, charity and sportsmanship. It is named for Stewart, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who won 11 times on the PGA TOUR, including three major championships.
For Jacobsen, the motivation to have fun, in his golf, his life and his businesses, always has been about his outlook on what’s important.
“It comes with a dose of perspective about what we’re really doing out here,” Jacobsen said. “Early on in my career I was so appreciative of the fact that I could play a game that I love. I never felt like I was entitled, never felt like I had a path to the PGA TOUR when I was a kid.
“I kind of felt like I was wearing that Batman costume on Halloween, like I was living a dream. Whether I made birdie or bogey, I had that perspective. We’re playing professional golf for a living. How bad can it be?”
It’s one of the things that close friends Jacobsen and Stewart discussed at great length over the years.
“Payne was a competitor; I’m a competitor,” Jacobsen said. “We’re all competitors. We all want to win every time we tee it up but that’s not feasible. But you can always have fun.
“I always looked at playing on the PGA TOUR as an opportunity to further a career, add to the resume but also to have more fun.”
Naturally, Jacobsen has plenty of favorite Stewart stories.
“Oh, sure,” he said. “I can remember when I was talking to Payne at the Buick Open in the early '80s. Payne, Curtis (Strange) and I were playing together the first two rounds. We all showed up wearing white shirts, khaki pants and white shoes. On about the 12th green, Payne looked at me and Curtis and said, 'Look at the three of us. We look like carbon copies of each other. That’s ridiculous. We’ve got to stand out more.' ”
That winter, Stewart went to Australia to further his career. He returned to the PGA TOUR the next year with a new wardrobe featuring of his signature Plus-fours, a Ben Hogan-style cap and elegantly crafted shoes.
“That was the start of Payne Stewart being the clothes horse,” Jacobsen said. “True to his word, he stood out more. We all came to know Payne’s golf swing but when you saw a guy across the fairway with Plus-fours and the Hogan cap, everybody knew it was Payne.”
Another favorite story revolved around the band, Jake Trout and the Flounders.
“We were recording our first song,” Jacobsen said. “Payne flew in to play his part, the harmonica. Mark and I picked him up at the airport, brought him back to the studio in Tallahassee but Payne just couldn’t seem to get it done. He took the keys of the car, went to the store, bought a six-pack. We took about an hour break – it’s still morning – and he had two or three beers. He got into the right frame, put on his sunglasses, leaned back against the wall and did it.
“I had to take him back to the airport and pour him onto the plane.”
On Oct. 25, 1999, while on his way to the season-ending TOUR Championship in Houston, Stewart was killed in an airplane accident. Since its inception in 2000, the Payne Stewart Award has been presented during the week of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
In the 1980s, Jacobsen and Stewart joined with Lye as Jake Trout and the Flounders, and the band released two albums, in 1988 and 1999. The second album was released shortly before Stewart’s death.
Jacobsen has supported, through his resources and his time, nonprofit initiatives such as Folds of Honor, The First Tee, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. Events managed by Peter Jacobsen Sports, a marketing and management firm he founded in 1989, have contributed more than $40 million including the March of Dimes, I Have A Dream Foundation and other major charities.
Jacobsen, 59, the 16th recipient of the Payne Stewart Award, said his charitable aspirations and contributions began at home.
“It starts with good parenting,” he said. “My mom and dad always instilled that in us, always reminded us how lucky we were to be happy and healthy, and that not everybody has the things that we had.
“The thing I love about the PGA TOUR is that the basic premise, the focus, is charity. Every event is charity-based. There is always some sort of charitable component involved. I love that. I find that to be very inspiring because it is true. Those of us who are blessed, we need to do for those who can’t do for themselves.
“As I get older, it’s good to see young guys coming up and once they establish themselves, they want to start their foundations and they want to start things to give back to their communities. I think everybody on TOUR feels fortunate to be able to give back.”
The Payne Stewart Award Grant is presented by Southern Company. The $300,000 grant supports initiatives in Stewart’s name, including Payne and Tracey Stewart’s primary charity, The Stewart Family Foundation ($100,000) and The First Tee of the Ozarks in Missouri ($100,000). Another $100,000 will be donated to charities designated by Jacobsen. Those are Folds of Honor Foundation ($30,000); The Independence Fund ($30,000), Cascade AIDS Project ($30,000); and Young Musicians & Artists ($10,000).