Cedar Rapids | DOB: May 10, 1921; Died: January 16, 2001 (Age 79)

Inducted 1989 | Category: Amateur Golfer

Career Highlights

John Jacobs was shooting in the 70s by the time he was 13 years of age. He shot a 59 at the Legion course in Mason City when he was 15, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 3s. But John was a reluctant star.

“My father kept me going, because I never had a great desire for golf,’ Jacobs once said. “Dad worked for Borden’s Ice Cream Company, and every afternoon at 5 o’clock he’d come home and get me for a round of golf at Ellis Park. Some days I’d hide out in an alley when I didn’t feel like playing. Buit it got so instead of going home he’d just come by the alley and pick me up.” Jacobs would often walk in after five or six holes, and have putting contests with caddies for nickels or golf tees.

There was no questioning Jacobs’ ability. Two weeks after graduating from Immaculate Conception High School in Cedar Rapids, Jacobs he beat John Vavra, 1 up in 38 holes, to win the first of his six Iowa Amateur titles in 1939. He also won in 1940 and 1941, when he also made the cut in the U.S. Open at Colonial.

The Iowa Amateur wasn’t held for three years (1943-45) because of World War II. Jacobs enlisted in the Navy as a seaman first class. After reporting in Des Moines he was sent to the Great Lakes Traiming Station on June 11, 1942. From there he became a Signalman Second Class on a destroyer of the Atlantic Fleet, the USS Plunkett. He received six combat stars for action in Casablanca, Sicily, Anzio, Salerno, Normandy and Southern France.

After his 39-month military career, John added three more Iowa Amateur titles (1946, 1948 and 1950) and had a 39-3 match record in 10 appearances.

Jacobs also won four straight Northwest Amateur titles, starting in 1948, averaging 70.4 strokes. He beat Jack Fleck in a playoff for his second Waterloo Open title in 1953.

At Iowa, he won the Big Ten individual title in 1946 in Minneapolis, Minn. His 72-hole score of 294 was good for a five-shot victory. Jacobs was the only Hawkeye to win a Big Ten individual title until Brad Klaprott did it in 1992. Jacobs also tied for ninth in the NCAA Championships in 1946 at Princeton, N.J.

In addition, John won three Iowa Senior Amateur titles (1979, 1981, 1983) and earned the IGA Senior Player of the Year Award in 1985 (the first year it was rewarded) and 1987. He reached the semifinals of the U.S. Senior Amateur in 1987.

Mr. Jacobs was 79 when he passed away on Jan. 16, 2001.

Career Chronology

  • Big Ten Individual Champion 1946
  • Iowa Amateur Champion 1939, ’40, ’41, ’46, ‘48, ‘50
  • Northwest Amateur Champion 1948, 49, 50 & 51
  • Waterloo Open Champion 1951 & 1953
  • Iowa Senior Amateur Champion 1979, 1981, 1983
  • IGA Senior Player of the Year 1985, 1987
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