The Chautauqua Daily

John Jachym Praises the Ryder Cup

Chautauquan John Jachym is one of five. Jachym is one of five lifetime members of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA). The other four are President Gerald Ford, comedian Bob Hope, golfer Gary Player and paraplegic golfer Dennis Walters. Pretty fast company. But Jachym is not starry-eyed. "I like to remember that line by (journalist) David Halberstam, 'Fame is a vapor. The only thing that endures is character,"' Jachym said.

Jachym forged much of his character growing up on a dairy farm in Chautauqua County. "Living on a farm is one of the best ways of maturing," Jachym commented.

He left the farm to study journalism at the University of Missouri, after which he worked on newspapers in Missouri, New York City and Chautauqua County. Jachym enlisted in the marines during World War II, never to return to his journalism career.

Before the war, Jachym went to work as a scout for the legendary Branch Rickey and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was the youngest scout in baseball at the time. He later owned the Jamestown minor league franchise in the old PONY League. He acquired 40 percent of the Washington Senators of the American League in 1949.

Jachym forged much of his character through sports during his 79 years. He started playing golf at age 43, joined the Advisory Board of the PGA at age 47, and continues to play golf with a passion to this day. "Luckily I have shot my age every year since turning 71," Jachym said.

Jachym joined the PGA Board as an advisor on business matters, public relations, tournament sites, television, federal government concerns and other matters. "I began serving on the PGA Bopard in the 60s when golf was starting to boom. I tried to help keep the PGA out of trouble," Jachym explained.

Jachym leaves Chautauqua this week for Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY to attend the PGA Championship. He will be attending his 31st consecutive PGA Championship.

Jachym's great pleasure has been watching the Ryder Cup become a premier sporting event. "The Ryder Cup is now the greatest golf event in the world. The players don't get a penny, but all the best golfers want to play. It has the international flavor and the great tradition," Jachym said.

Jachym's first Ryder Cup event, the United States vs. England, was held in Houston in 1967 with Ben Hogan as U.S. team captain.

"There was little interest in golf at that time. All they talked about and wrote about was the Texas-Oklahoma football game," Jachym said.

In the early days of the Ryder Cup, the U.S. golfers dominated their British counterparts, and the American fans took little interest in such lopsided tournaments.

"Every player would give his right arm just to be named to the team now. In the old days, it was no big deal. (Tom) Weiskopf used to go hunting instead of playing Ryder Cup," Jachym said.

Tom Kite, this year's captain, follows in a grand tradition. Greats of the game such as Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Raymond Floyd have all done captain duties. "Today every golfer desires to be captain," Jachym said.

In the 1970s, the Ryder Cup changed to the U.S. vs. Europe."With the infusion of the European golfers, the Ryder Cup became a real competition, and it has become one of the biggest, most important sporting events in the world," Jachym pointed out.

The European fans are exceedingly partisan. Jachym has witnessed those fans throw a European player's ball on the green after his tee shot sailed over the green. If a referee requests, Jachym is in a position to enforce the rules.

Jachym understands golf had become a worldwide phenomenon. "DeTocqueville saw America as a land of fads, trends. Now the whole world is America and golf is a current fad," Jachym said.

He once received a photo from a Singapore newspaper that showed him with Trevino at Muirfield in Scottland at a Ryder Cup event. "The impact of Ryder Cup is profound and far reaching," Jachym said.

Jachym will depart his Chautauqua home and travel to Valderamma, Spain, to participate in the first Ryder Cup to be played anywhere other than the United States or the British Isles.

"I love the Ryder Cup, the tradition and the atmosphere. There will be people there from all over the world and 25,000 Spanish fans. They'll all be yelling 'Ole!' I guess," Jachym said with glee.

And Ole to Chautauqua John Jachym who has made his mark on the world of golf.

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