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Joel Jackson’s farewell column

By |  May 2, 2017 0 Comments
Joel Jackson

Joel Jackson

It’s time to hang up this, my regular column, and go from semi-retirement to three-quarter retirement, at least. Not long ago, I asked Golfdom Editor-in-Chief Seth Jones to take me out of the regular lineup and put me on the roster only when needed as a pinch hitter for special occasions.

A couple of days after that conversation, I found myself covering the grand re-opening of the Santa Ana Country Club in Costa Mesa, Calif. Seth had schedule conflicts and couldn’t make it, so I went to bat for the team.

The Golfdom team signed me up in 1998, when this historic publication, which started in 1927, was brought back to life. I had just retired from Walt Disney World at the end of 1997 after 20 years in the Golf Division. Toss in roughly three years at the Isleworth CC growing bentgrass in central Florida, and you have 23 years in turf management.

Simultaneously, I was also heavily involved with the Florida GCSA and was editor of Florida Green from 1990 to 2013. Somehow along the way I also became the association’s communications director, then executive director. So, there were another 23-plus years of service to the FGCSA.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the professional publication editors who were instrumental in my success. They include Larry Kieffer, who served as managing editor of Florida Green for many years, and my Golfdom editors, Pat Jones, Larry Aylward and current EIC Seth Jones. Thank you, gentlemen, for your ideas, guidance and your style and grammar corrections.

After I moved to California in 2015, I got to thinking that it was time to get out from under deadlines and maybe just do a few projects as needed. I also thought I might do some writing outside the bounds of journalism.

So much for my “jobs journey.” The thing that really made this time fly by so enjoyably was visiting historic and new golf courses and meeting the people who take care of them. The list is too long to just drop a few names, but besides course coverage in my Florida Green days, there were also the courses I got to visit and play because of my membership in two golf writing and publication associations, the Turf and Ornamental Communications Association (TOCA) and the International Network of Golf (ING).

These memberships included writers, editors, suppliers and advertisers from every imaginable part of the golf industry. Their annual conferences took me from Florida’s Golf Hall of Fame to Seattle’s Space Needle and from upstate New York to the Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

How inspiring to walk in the footsteps of golf pioneers and people who loved the game way back then as we do now, and to think about how it has changed, and yet on some levels always will have a common core. I am so thankful for the many years I had the opportunity to write about bits and pieces of the Golfdom world we all share.

I also want to send out heartfelt thanks to all the people who took time to thank me in person or in writing for my columns. One of those occasions was a letter I received many years ago from a Florida superintendent. I had written a Florida Green column titled, “It Can’t Be Perfect All the Time,” and he wrote to say it touched a nerve and he cut it out, framed it and hung it on his office wall! That one stopped me in my tracks and made me aware that what I write sometimes has an impact far greater than I realize.

Then there were lots of nice folks at our GIS conferences over the years who would stop me on the streets or in the convention center and thank me for my writing. One of the first and best was a young fellow from the Midwest who stopped me on crazy, crowded Bourbon Street in New Orleans several conferences ago and said, “Excuse me, are you Joel Jackson?” I replied yes, and he simply said, “I really like your articles!”

I was amazed he could recognize me amid the jostling crowds. That encounter began a string of similar rewarding remarks. Those comments touched my soul and gave me self-confidence and a sense of worth beyond my expectations.

Meanwhile, keep the “Green Side Up,” and I hope to run into you in San Antonio next year and listen to your story.

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