Mackenzie Tour Caddie Chronicle I: Brad Jacobs
June 12, 2020
By Brendan Stasiewich, PGATOUR.COM
- June 12, 2020
- Olympic curler Brad Jacobs caddied for Canadian golf star Derek Gillespie. (Courtesy of Michael Burns/Curling Canada)
Unlike on the PGA TOUR, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada players don’t typically travel with the same caddie throughout the year. Instead, most either carry their own bag or rely on volunteer caddies at each event.
When the Canadian Tour, the Mackenzie Tour’s predecessor, came to his hometown, playing at Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club in 2003, golf-loving high school student Brad Jacobs saw it as a good opportunity to rub shoulders with professional players.
While Jacobs had a deep appreciation for golf, the 17-year old dreamed of playing professionally on the sheet rather than on the course. And, judging by his win against Olympic curling champion Patrick Hurlimann two years prior, he was well on his way.
While a teenaged Jacobs was busy shocking Olympic-level curlers, Oshawa, Ontario, native and former Canadian junior team member Derek Gillespie was busy graduating from the University of Arizona.
During his time in Tucson, Gillespie, with all the charisma in the world, managed to take down the likes of Lucas Glover, Adam Scott and D.A. Points at the 1999 NCAA championship. A year later – in his first event as a professional, at the RBC Canadian Open – he earned low-Canadian honours with a T42 finish.
Mike Weir proclaimed Gillespie as Canada’s next great golfer.Derek Gillespie lines up his putt on the third hole during the final round of the Shell Championship. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Flash forward to 2003 in the “Soo,” Gillespie was fresh off his second professional win, at the Corona Ixtapa Classic a month earlier and was the top-ranked player on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit.
So, when Jacobs arrived at the course that week in June and learned he would be lugging the bag of the Tour’s most recognizable player, it was hard to contain his excitement.
“I’ll never forget how much fun it was,” said Jacobs. “He was a very good player, an up-and-coming star so to speak. So, I was pretty nervous.”
Fortunately for Jacobs, Gillespie’s friendly nature (Golf Channel’s Big Break Prince Edward Island in 2009 is a testament to this) helped the youngster feel comfortable in the nerve-racking situation.
“There were times between shots we had some very good dialogue, and he was interested in my life,” said Jacobs. “Him getting to know me was very professional of him and showed that he cared.”
Gillespie finished the tournament tied for 21st, bouncing back from an opening-round 74 with a 66, the best round of anybody in the field that day.
“I remember being in awe of the way he hit the ball,” said Jacobs. “He wasn’t a very big guy, but he could hit the ball a long way and his swing was unbelievable. It was a great experience, and he was a lot of fun.
“He was also really generous when he paid me,” Jacobs added with a laugh. “I thought at the time, as a kid, I was really pleased with how he took care of me.”
Eleven years later, in contrast to Jacobs being in awe of another athlete, it was the entire world in awe of Jacobs. Wearing the maple leaf as Canada’s skipper at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, he fully realized his dream as he, alongside his teammates, took down Great Britain in the gold-medal match to win Canada’s third consecutive Olympic men’s curling gold.Brad Jacobs won Canada’s third consecutive Olympic men’s curling gold in 2014. (Courtesy of Michael Burns/Curling Canada)
That summer, Jacobs returned to another Canadian professional golf event, having the opportunity to meet fellow RBC athletes such as Ernie Els and Graeme McDowell at the RBC Canadian Open.
Between conversations with the PGA TOUR players he met and the discussions he had with Gillespie as a 17-year old, the now 35-year old sees many similarities between in his line of work and touring professionals.
“Work ethic, patience and mental toughness, those things come to mind,” said Jacobs. “The emotional intelligence piece can make or break an athlete, having the ability to not dwell on the things that go wrong and always be in the present.”
Meanwhile, Gillespie has continued chasing his PGA TOUR dream. Despite playing hundreds of events since the Northern Ontario Open in Ste. Saint Marie, he says he still remembers the enthusiastic teenager who went on to win Olympic gold.
“Damn, that was a long time ago,” he laughed.