The Salem News, By Bill Kipouras, Staff Writer, October 15, 2009
Ask George Jacobson to name the best golfer he had in 29 celebrated years as the varsity golf coach at Salem State College, and he'll quickly back off.
"I had 26 All-Americans," Jacobson replied. "That's too tough a question; I wouldn't single out one of them. What I accomplished was not me; it was them."
The Quincy native and Beverly resident known as '"Jake" never anticipated the success that would come the Vikings' way on the golf course — and in turn, the national recognition that the program received under his leadership.
Jacobson could establish a museum at his home with all the awards accorded him over the years. He could plaster newspaper accounts on all the walls and still have some clippings left over. Then came a citation that could have knocked him off his feet.
The soft-spoken 75-year-old gentleman will receive the Distinguished Service Award presented by the 44-member Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Distinguished Service Award is voted upon for meritorious service to the ECAC individual or institution for significant accomplishment chosen in his or her professional field or in the athletic field.
"I couldn't even dream of achieving anything of this magnitude. It's my greatest honor beyond a doubt," Jacobson said.
"Besides my wife (Elsie) and family, this is the best thing that's ever happened to me. It was awesome, a very pleasant surprise, and it came out of the blue."
Another recipient of the same tribute at a recent ECAC convention ceremony at the Hyannis Resort was Northeastern University sports information director Jack Grinold.
Jacobson has had his share of prestigious moments off the course. He captured the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association's Gordon McCullough Coach Award in 2006; was inducted in the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 1997; was the Dick Gordon Collegiate Classic Honoree at Myrtle Beach in 1996; a Salem State College Hall of Fame inductee in 1990; the Division 3 NCAA Golf Coach of the Year seven times between 1973-1989; and the John Mulkern Award from Basketball Officials Board No. 130.
The former Boston University soccer captain, who directed Salem State to 23 consecutive NCAA appearances, retired from coaching in 1989. The next year, Gordon McCullough of the New England Intercollegiate Association asked him to come aboard as the organization's executive director. Jacobson thought the job was too much for him, but agreed as a favor to do the job for one year.
That was nearly two decades ago.
"I'd see how things go. When you retire (as both golf coach and faculty member) it leaves a void in your life and the new position filled that void, even if it did involve all three (collegiate) levels — and all the headaches," said Jacobson. "It was also a chance to stop traveling and spend more time with my wife and family. That was a major factor."
Next year will be his 20th with the association, which he says will also be his last.
He said he owes much of his success to Elsie, who assisted him with a myriad of projects over the years, including all the paperwork.
"She's handled all my communication, been my computer analyst, my everything. Elsie and golf have been the big pluses in my life — and make sure you get them in that order," Jacobson pleaded.
"She's deserving for much of the credit I've received," the husband said.
Were it not for Elsie, Jacobson may have missed out on his rich golf experience. They knew each other at Quincy High: Elsie was a cheerleader, Jacobson captained soccer. It wasn't until Jacobson was a junior at BU that they connected.
"I never played (golf) when I was younger. I read about Sammy Snead, Gene Sarazen and (Ed) Porky Oliver in the sports sections, but they didn't look like athletes," Jacobson recalled. "Elsie's father Roy was a member at Wollaston (Country Club). She gave me my first set of clubs and came to the games at BU. She wanted me to get into golf so it would be something we both could do, and it took off after that."
He launched the golf program in 1959 at Rockport High School before landing the Salem State position three years later when the late Dick Schneider was the athletic director there.
As the basketball coach at Rockport he won a Class D Tech Tourney crown when Vikings star Steve Rowell was a freshman.
"No coach wins without talent. I was one of the fortunate ones," he said.
and from Eastern College Athletic Conference:
Jacobson has been the Executive Director of the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association since 1990. NEIGA is a non-profit organization, which was first organized in 1934 at the Oakley Country Club in Watertown, Massachusetts. The NEIGA is known for hosting some of the largest championship events within collegiate golf, involving players from NCAA Divisions I, II and III. Before becoming the Executive Director, Jacobson was the President of the NEIGA from 1977-1978.
Jacobson has been involved in the golfing world as a coach since 1962, when he became the varsity golf coach at Rockport High School. From 1967-2002, Jacobson has been a professor, advisor, coach and dean at Salem State College. Jacobson held the varsity golf coach position at Salem State College from 1966-1989.
Besides the NEIGA, there are many professional organizations Jacobson is involved with. Since 1988, he has been a member of the Golf Coaches Association of America. In addition, Jacobson is also an associate member of the U.S. Golf Association, a life member of Board #130 of the International Board of Basketball Officials, an ECAC Golf Committee member, and since 1990 he has been on the Hall of Fame committee for Salem State College.
Many awards have been presented to Jacobson over the years, including the NEIGA Gordon McCullough Coach Award. He has been inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Hall of Fame and Salem State College Hall of Fame.
Jacobson has been involved in education since 1956, teaching on the elementary, high school and college levels. However, teaching was put on hold from 1957-1959 when Jacobson was in the U.S. Army as Lieutenant Fire Direction Officer Artillery, stationed in Germany. He earned an honorable discharge as First Lieutenant in May 1959.
Many of Jacobson's accomplishments have come with the love and support of his family, his wife Elsie, and his two daughters Lauri and Nancy.
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