Keeping up with the Jones: A farewell to Dan Jenkins

By |  April 15, 2019 1 Comments
Seth Jones and Brandon Haddock (Photo: Brandon Haddock)

Dan Jenkins and Seth Jones at the annual Golf Writers dinner in Augusta, Ga., in 2016. (Photo: Brandon Haddock)

Sports journalism, and certainly the great game of golf, lost a legend recently with the passing of World Golf Hall of Famer Dan Jenkins at the age of 90. I’m happy to say I knew Dan Jenkins, a little.

The man was not just a legend of golf writing and sports journalism but of journalism in general. He changed an entire genre of journalism. You would never know that when you saw Jenkins, quietly smoking a cigarette outside the media room. He was fine with chatting but just as happy to be left alone.

Whenever I saw Jenkins, I would interrupt that peaceful smoke break with a hello. While I won’t claim to be a Dan Jenkins completist (he’s written so much over the years), I certainly knew who he was and appreciated what he had done, moving sports journalism away from stats and the cold, hard facts and giving it a living, breathing pulse. I also knew that every time I would introduce myself, he was friendly. Whenever I took a guest to the annual Golf Writers dinner and I saw Mr. Jenkins, I was sure to introduce the two. Not because I wanted to impress my colleague with an introduction to a legend, but because I wanted the person to see that Jenkins was so nice he’d act like he knew who I am.

Maybe he did know who I am. I’d like to think he did, a little. He definitely knew Golfdom, and that was my in. He actually wrote for Golfdom, which is both a shock and at the same time not surprising at all. It was in the May 1956 issue, which was — jeez — almost 63 years ago. Jenkins told me he was paid $20 for the article, which was a fair rate back then — the same rate Golf Digest paid. Jenkins wrote about his hometown Colonial CC, a topic dear to the Texan’s heart.

I asked Jenkins about Herb Graffis, founder of Golfdom. He told me he was a funny guy, great at dinner parties, but he didn’t know Graffis well. The thought of Jenkins not knowing anyone in golf well was hard to believe.

Jenkins once told me that reporting on the modern-day PGA Tour had become much more challenging because today’s players are more secluded from the media. He said it used to be common for him to have lunch with players, but of the modern crop, only Phil Mickelson had ever taken the time to sit down and break bread with him. This was over lunch, so I now have one thing in common with Phil.

That lunch, this photo, a love of golf and a byline in Golfdom might be the only thing Jenkins and I had in common — we are chasms apart in terms of talent and notoriety — but that’s good enough for me. It was a pleasure, Dan Jenkins. Thanks for the stories.

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1 Comment on "Keeping up with the Jones: A farewell to Dan Jenkins"

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  1. Brian Cloud says:

    Cool tribute, Seth. Mr. Jenkins will rightfully take his place alongside the Mt. Rushmore legends of Fort Worth golf. About a year ago I was with my grandson and saw him at Angelo’s BBQ on White Settlement Rd. Next time you are in town let’s go there for a sandwich and a visit to the old Goat Hills site. Great job.

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